Bitcoin & Crypto-assets, October-December 2022

with Ferdinando Ametrano (B00808399 AT essec DOT edu)

Department of Finance, ESSEC Business School
3 Bernard Hirsch, 95021 Cergy-Pontoise Cedex

Learning objectives

The course is about bitcoin and crypto-assets, their economic rationale and potential.

Financial markets, investing, and monetary theory are the focus of the course; anyway, game theory, computer science (distributed systems, distributed consensus), and cryptography elements are examined too, in the attempt to properly convey the interdisciplinarity of the topic and appreciate its relevance.

Focusing mainly on Bitcoin as reference crypto-asset, the course will also cover Ethereum, smart assets, ICO, NFT, and the general applicability of blockchain technology.

The frontier of monetary engineering will be explored


There are no strict prerequisites, even if a computer science mindset and some familiarity with algebra and finance might help to appreciate the course.

While a rigorous formal approach is almost impossible in a course touching on so many and so different knowledge areas, intellectual curiosity is stimulated about the interplay between finance, maths, cryptography, economic incentives, technology, monetary theory, regulatory issues, and politics.

Teaching method

  • Slide based lessons with associated bibliography
    • Feedback about typos/mistakes to be fixed and clarification to be added is very much appreciated
    • Slides are usually revised after each lesson to incorporate the feedback: the latest version is always available online and is clearly marked on the cover with the revision date
  • Python 3 programming assignments and technology assignments
  • Possibly, workshops on Bitcoin Core, Electrum, and OpenTimestamps

Teaching language



There will five homework assignments, each one worth one point. Assignments can be tackled by group of students, up to three, no more.

The final exam on December 6 will have ten multiple choice questions, each one worth one point, and two open questions that will account for the remaining five points.


  • Administrative queries: Esther Bonville (bonville AT essec DOTedu)
  • Teaching assistant, assignments: Alessandra Guaitamacchi (B00792969 AT essec DOT edu)
  • Course content questions: Ferdinando Ametrano (B00808399 AT essec DOT edu)


  1. 2022-10-04 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    Course Description
    Bitcoin as Digital Gold (Part 1)
  2. 2022-10-11 Tuesday 16:30-19:30 (online)
    Bitcoin as Digital Gold (Part 2)
  3. 2022-10-18 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    Hash Functions
    Blockchain, Mining, and Distributed Consensus (Part 1)
  4. 2022-10-22 Saturday 9:00-12:00
    Blockchain, Mining, and Distributed Consensus (Part 2)
  5. 2022-10-25 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    Transactions and Scripts
  6. 2022-11-08 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    Timestamping and the OpenTimestamps Protocol
  7. 2022-11-15 Tuesday 16:30-19:30 (online)
    Beyond Bitcoin: Between Hype and Reality (Part 1)
  8. 2022-11-26 Saturday 9:00-12:00
    Beyond Bitcoin: Between Hype and Reality (Part 2)
  9. 2022-11-29 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    The Cryptocurrency Frontier in Monetary Engineering
    slides and video
    Hayek Money: The Cryptocurrency Price Stability Solution
  10. 2022-12-06 Tuesday 16:30-19:30
    Final exam

Python library

Python scripts, Excel spreadsheets, and regtest lab material


Advanced references