Bitcoin & Crypto-assets, October-December 2024

with Ferdinando Ametrano (ferdinando DOT ametrano 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 class 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



During the course, five assignments will contribute one point each.

The final exam will include:

  • multiple choice questions (up to ten points);
  • two open questions (up to five points for both answers).


  • Administrative queries: TBA (TBA AT essec DOT edu)
  • Teaching assistant, assignments: TBA (TBA AT essec DOT edu)
  • Content questions: Ferdinando Ametrano (ferdinando DOT ametrano AT essec DOT edu)


  1. 2024-10-01 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Course Description
    Bitcoin as Digital Gold (Part 1)
  2. 2024-10-08 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Bitcoin as Digital Gold (Part 2)
  3. 2024-10-15 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Hash Functions
    Assignment #1
    Blockchain, Mining, and Distributed Consensus (Part 1)
  4. 2024-10-22 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Blockchain, Mining, and Distributed Consensus (Part 2)
    Assignment #2
  5. 2024-10-29 Saturday 13:15-16:15
    Discrete Logarithm Problem on Finite Fields and Elliptic Curves (first section only)
    Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) (first two sections only)
    Addresses, WIFs, and Bitcoin Message Signing
    Assignment #3
  6. 2024-11-05 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Transactions and Scripts (section 1 and 5 only)
    Assignment #4
    Timestamping and the OpenTimestamps Protocol
    Assignment #5
  7. 2024-11-12 Tuesday 13:15-16:15 (online)
    Beyond Bitcoin: Altcoins, Stablecoins, Smart Contracts, and Smart Assets
  8. 2024-11-19 Tuesday 13:15-16:15 (online)
    Beyond Bitcoin: Distributed Ledger Technology
    Financial Products and Services for the Blockchain Economy
  9. 2024-11-26 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Wallets and Custody
    The Cryptocurrency Frontier in Monetary Engineering (video)
    Hayek Money: The Cryptocurrency Price Stability Solution
  10. 2024-12-03 Tuesday 13:15-16:15
    Final exam

Python library

Python scripts, Excel spreadsheets, and regtest lab material


Advanced references