The SWIFT Institute, an offshoot of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), launched a new research program on virtual money. The author of the selected proposal will receive a grant of €15,000. The Institute is looking for research on recent developments in digital currencies and cryptocurrencies, but places an emphasis on bitcoin, which it describes as “arguably the most popular” digital currency, as CoinDesk reports. The SWIFT Institute posted a call for proposals titled ‘Virtual Currencies: What are the “real” risks?‘, saying: “With bitcoin’s increasing usage, virtual currencies are becoming more of a reality. There are bitcoin ATMs in more than 10 countries worldwide, and the currency is increasingly accepted by mainstream retailers.” The institute also noted that an average amount of bitcoin transactions per day total 40,000-80,000. Moreover, given the rising bitcoin acceptance, the volume of transactions is “expected to rise exponentially”. The Institute provided a list of challenges and advantages of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that the research papers have to include: What is the net economic impact of virtual currencies? Do the lower transaction costs outweigh resources expended in mining? What is the relationship between virtual currencies and real money? What are the risks involved in using virtual currencies? What role can or should regulators and central banks play? Would pegging/fixing exchange rates help stabilise virtual currencies? How can criminal activity be avoided when using digital currencies? The institute requires all applicants to submit a CV or biography with all relevant information about the applicant, who is also required to submit a 2,500 word description of the research project. The deadline is August 20th 2014. The winner will receive 50% of the grant, while the remaining half will be paid after the proposal is submitted. After the completion of the research, it will be available for anyone who wants to download it.