Meet Turkey’s ‘unexpected winners’ of Uniswap’s UNI giveaway

Students enrolled in the class “Introduction to Cryptocurrencies” at Turkey’s Kadir Has University were the unexpected winners of Uniswap’s UNI token distribution on Sept. 17. İsmail Hakkı Polat, one of two lecturers of the class, told Cointelegraph Turkey that all students who, as part of a class project, participated in listing and swapping a token on Uniswap received 400 UNI. In Turkey’s local currency, it was valued at roughly 12,000 liras, or around $1,570, which accounts for nearly half the yearly education fee for some students.

Taught by Polat and Tansel Kaya, two well-known names in Turkey’s cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem, Introduction to Cryptocurrencies has for the last two years been included as a compulsory course for students studying new media at Kadir Has University. Polat explained that there are also engineering, law, management information systems — or MIS — and business administration students who take it as an elective course.

Token hunt at the academy

According to a tweet by Kaya, as part of the course taught in fall 2019, an ERC-20 token called KHAS was issued to allow students to directly experience token trading. The students created a MetaMask wallet to purchase the token, which was listed on decentralized exchange Uniswap.

One of the possible use cases identified for KHAS was as a voting app for student president elections. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, the studies were interrupted midway. The incident that reminded the course’s lecturers and students of KHAS was the Uniswap’s token distribution, during which thousands of wallet owners received 400 UNI. Polat stated that the class designed a real-world use case for the KHAS token, which was developed as part of the course. Noting that they gathered input from students on this topic, Polat said:

“We received ideas such as the school’s park, cafeteria, student president elections and the merchandise store. We put one of these use cases into practice in a week and provided it to the class in a quiz format.”

Students of the “Crypto 101” course learned how the KHAS tokens can serve eight use cases devised by the group. The lecturers set up a QR code for the university’s merchandise store to receive payments via KHAS, but they did not explain which campus store accepted the token. Instead, they created a “token hunt” game, where the first student to transact via KHAS tokens would be the winner and receive two additional points on their grade.

400 UNI, but no gas?

The winner of the token hunt was Barış Öztürk, a third-year MIS student who chose to take the class due to his interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Calling Crypto 101 “the best class he ever took,” Öztürk elaborated to Cointelegraph that he normally gets bored during lectures, “But in Introduction to Cryptocurrencies, I never skipped a lesson. I even attended after-class discussions with lecturers.”

All of the students who attended the Introduction to Cryptocurrencies course in fall 2019 and transacted with KHAS tokens on Uniswap woke up on Sept. 17 with 400 UNI in their Ethereum wallets, thanks to Uniswap’s distribution of its tokens.

Öztürk claimed his 400 UNI tokens with the help of Kaya. Because he emptied all the Ether (ETH) in his wallet immediately after the project was completed last year, his MetaMask wallet was left unable to pay for the gas needed for the token transfer. Kaya sent him about $75 worth of ETH to pay the gas fee and guided him through the UNI reward claim steps.

After seven hours of nervous waiting in front of the computer screen due to congestion on the Ethereum network thanks to a “UNI reward claim rush,” Barış was able to get his 400 UNI and trade them for fiat. “I never imagined I would land over $1,500 for being a student in a classroom,” Barış said. “The next morning was the first time in my life that my dad sent me a text message saying ‘Good morning, my dear son.’”

Token-based election project sustained due to COVID-19

According to Kaya, Turkey needs to stop being just a consumer in the decentralized finance space and start making its own projects: “The blockchain and crypto industry desperately needs a qualified labor force. Providing education in this field enables access to many global projects for the young population.” Discussing the need for the youth to consider the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a career space instead of a way to make a fast buck, Polat said:

“Cryptocurrencies and blockchain stimulate a new profession in all occupational fields. In tomorrow’s world, a financier will have to know decentralized finance, and a lawyer will have to know smart contracts. While academic education is on the way to an interdisciplinary and interprofessional structure, blockchain serves as a palpable case study in this transition. That’s why it is critical, especially for the youth, to have a grasp of the new generation financial ecosystem rather than crypto trading.”

The first half of the 14-week Crypto 101 course is all about blockchain, and the second half teaches students cryptocurrency technologies. According to the information shared by Polat with Cointelegraph Turkey, Kadir Has University has also established a “Crypto 102” course in which issuance and coding processes of crypto tokens and smart contracts will be taught.

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