By Lindsay McKenzie
When he was in graduate school and working toward a doctorate in computer science, Arthur Carvalho made a life-changing decision.
“It was 2012, and my friend suggested that we invest some money in Bitcoin,” he recalled. At the time, one Bitcoin was valued at around $13. At its peak valuation in late 2017, the price had jumped to almost $18,000.
“I would be a millionaire now,” Carvalho said. “But I told my friend, ‘I don’t trust this thing.’ I thought it was a scam.”
He didn’t get rich from Bitcoin, but he did become interested in cryptocurrencies and how they work.
Even as private industry is increasingly supporting blockchain research, very little government funding is being made available, said Cesare Fracassi, associate professor of finance at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
Many of the companies providing financial support are small start-ups, but more established blockchain companies such as Ripple are starting to step up. Ripple announced last month that it would be distributing $50 million to 17 university partners, including UT Austin, for blockchain-related research of the institutions’ choosing.
Fracassi called this a “big deal” and noted that companies don’t often hand out unrestricted gifts in underfunded research areas. The money will allow Fracassi and colleagues to hire additional staff and “jump-start” blockchain-related research. A call for proposals will open this fall.