Video - The Bitcoin Gospel Documentary

When the financial world collapsed in 2008, a mysterious genius under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto presented the architecture for the perfect, bankless currency. Bitcoins can't be forged, and can be transferred worldwide with one click of a button, without transaction costs. Up till today, nobody knows who Nakamoto is, but his invention of the first decentralized cryptocurrency became world-famous within a couple of years.


Roger Ver:                 So, we're standing here in my living room in Tokyo, Japan.  And I'm going to show everybody just how amazing Bitcoin is by sending 100 euros worth of Bitcoin as of today's value through my TV onto the camera onto the TV in the Netherlands and anybody with their Bitcoin wallet ready that scans what they're going to see on the screen in a moment.  We'll be able to claim the 100 euros worth of Bitcoins and there's nothing that anybody can do to stop it or to freeze your account or block it or control it in any way.  So, on the TV here, we have a Bitcoin address that I've just generated.  And I have my phone here.  I'm going to scan the QR code for the Bitcoin address on the TV.  Now I have it.  I'm going to send 100 euros worth of Bitcoins to that address.  So, we'll hit send and anybody can monitor on the balance of this address.  There it is. 100 euros worth of Bitcoins just arrived at this address.  So, total received 100 euros; final balance, 100 euros, just like that.  So on this next screen you're about to see anybody with their Bitcoin wallet that scans the private key that corresponds with that address will be able to claim that money just by scanning the code that you're about to see on your television.  So, if you want to take a look, here it comes, 100 euros ready for anyone to claim.  All you have to do is scan this one right here.  And it's 100 euros worth of Bitcoins as of today.  By the time you scan it, it might be worth even more.  So, there it is for anyone ready to claim with their Bitcoin wallet.

Okay, Holland, now you've just seen the power of Bitcoin.  I sent 100 euros worth of Bitcoin from here in Tokyo directly to you guys through this camera, through the network, through the TV right into your home.  If I had tried to do that -- send you the money with a traditional bank, it would have taken several days and probably cost 30 euros.  I just did it right now with Bitcoin instantly, basically, for free and didn't have to ask anybody for permission.  I didn't need a bank.  I didn't need a government.  I didn't need anybody.  I just needed myself and you and our smartphones to do it.  That's the power of Bitcoin.

Announcer:                This is Backlight.  Welcome to a world in which we can be our own bank.  We take it for granted that money creation is controlled by governments and banks, but there's a community of people who don't see this as a given and who get quite worked up about it.

Max Keiser:               Wall Street is fraud, America is fraud, the world is fraud, banks are fraud, central banks are fraud.  We live in an era of fraud.  It's all based on fraud, and they've get a percentage of the fraud.  That's the business model.  To suggest that there is any moral or ethical aspect to anything that's going on now is to be completely naive about the fact that we live in an era dominated by financial terrorists.  Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, jihadists of banking.  They are here to kill you and themselves.  They believe in an ideology, not the Koran, but Adam Smith that they completely misread and interpret as something to justify they're blowing themselves up.  (Inaudible 00:03:19) is a terrorist, (Inaudible 00:03:20) is a terrorist, the central bank of Japan is a terrorist.  These are the real terrorists.


Unidentified Male:    Funds received.

Announcer:                This community is switching to what they think is a better monetary system, a system in which banks are no longer needed because payment could be made directly from one person to another.

Antonopoulos: The system of debt, one of the two parties is always the slave. And that is the architecture of money we live in.  That is the architecture of money we use in our civilization, an architecture of money where you have no control, an architecture of money where every interaction is mediated by a third party, a third party that has absolute control over that money.  Bitcoin is fundamentally different because in Bitcoin you don't owe anyone anything and no one owes you anything.  It is not a system based on that.  It is a system based on ownership and no one can censor it, no one can seize it, no one can freeze it.  And what they will tell you is that they're worried, they're very worried.  They're worried that criminals will use Bitcoin.  But the truth is that they're far more terrified that all of the rest of us will.  Thank you.

Announcer:                Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that was mostly known as a convenient tool for criminals, has suddenly become an important topic at conferences on financial innovation all over the world.  Proponents speak passionately of a digital miracle that can save the world from financial ruin.  The Bitcoin story starts off like a gospel revelation.  It's November 2nd, 2008, just six weeks after the Lehman Brothers collapsed.  And all over the world there are panicked debates about how to save the banks.  Then on a little visited web forum for cryptographers, a document appears in which a completely new monetary system is proposed.  The visionary author calls himself Satoshi Nakamoto.

Marshall Long:         First time I heard about it I was at lunch with a buddy in Texas and he said, "Man, there's just crazy new money."  And so, he talked about it over lunch and then I went home and I said, "Man, I want to -- I want to see if I can buy some."  At first, I wanted to buy some.

Peter Todd:               I'm emailed, a friend of mine.  I think I probably saw the white paper, it's a web form or something.  You know, it just said this is some electronic currency thing.  And this was publicly available.  You know, this was posted, what am I thinking, December, 2008, or something.

Garrick Hileman:      And these were the darkest days of the financial crisis.  So that to me suggests a very clever mind.  That saw an opportunity, the perfect opportunity, to introduce a new radical technology and a new radical approach to money in finance at just the right moment when people would be very open to making this big shift.  It's required to adopt a new currency.

Peter Todd:               I'm pretty sure if Satoshi is a human being, although I'd really love to go find out with some advanced AI.  But 99.99% chance he was a human being.

Peter Todd:               What's exciting for me is like a global economy.  Right now, we say we have a global economy, but I can't take a dollar and give it to you in the Netherlands and then you know what to do with it, right.  You would have to go and change it to your native currency.  And when you kind of eliminate that step and I can just send you one form of payment and you can send me a product, in a matter of seconds, that starts to change things from a global perspective, so.

Roger Ver:                 The first wire that I sent was for $25,000 and this was in early 2011 and Bitcoins were somewhere around $1.  All the way along I was buying Bitcoin.  And any time I meant to earn some dollars for my other company, I put it into Bitcoin.  And at this point, the vast majority of my net worth I've been keeping a Bitcoin for a while now.  I'm glad you didn't get the parking payment.  The car is actually like the perfect color for Bitcoin.  It's like the Bitcoin Orange, so we wanted to order some like Bitcoin Decals and put like Bitcoin logos around the car and then drive around Tokyo to hope help advertise a Bitcoin, but still never got around to doing that, maybe someday.

Announcer:                Roger Ver is the CEO of, selling secondhand computer equipment.  But for a couple of years now he's been known as the Bitcoin Jesus.  In 2011, he bought $25,000 worth of Bitcoins which now have a market value of $6 million.

Roger Ver:                 And somebody closed my -- I usually leave the trunk or the hood open a little bit so that I can reconnect the battery, but I don't know how it got closed between now and the last time I was here.  So, we'll have to --

Unidentified Male:    Some people think of Bitcoin as sort of an early adopter thing like, "Okay, I'm already too late" or "So isn't that a problem for Bitcoin?

Roger Ver:                 So, thinking that that it's too late to get involved in Bitcoin is like thinking it's too late to get involved with the internet or too late to get involved with using a cell phone, like, it's not too late to get involved with Bitcoin.  Bitcoin is going to make your life easier in so many ways and the price of Bitcoin, too, it's not too late for that either.  Bitcoins like $270 a Bitcoin right now, if Bitcoin becomes really popular all over the world, Bitcoins are going to have to be worth at least tens of thousands of dollars a Bitcoin, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per Bitcoin.  So, thinking it's too late to get involved with Bitcoin is like thinking it's too late to get involved with using the Internet.  Of course, not like it's ubiquitous in our lives and Bitcoins going to become ubiquitous in our lives as well.  Perfect money should be, have a limited supply, that's one of the most important things.  It needs have a limited supply, it needs to be easily recognizable, it needs to be durable, it needs to be transportable.  Bitcoin has all those things better than any other form of money the world has ever seen.  And that's why when I noticed Bitcoin for the first time, I realized that it's so incredibly useful as money that people are going to start using it more and more.

Announcer:                Roger lives and works in Tokyo.  He's outsourcing all the work for his own company so he can spend all his time promoting Bitcoin.

Roger Ver:                 So, it's a pretty exciting time for Bitcoin right now with all the stuff going on in Greek.  I mean, Bitcoins up about $10 since yesterday.  Just since all the news on the Greek referendum vote and just every day Bitcoins so exciting so on.  You can see lots of trading and everything just in the last 24 hours there.  I paid to put up a billboard in the heart of Silicon Valley right next to one of the busiest expressways that just said we accept Bitcoin and then listed some of the parts that we sell.  Then after that I started paying for national radio ads in the United States to run more than a hundred radio stations across the United States and paid for that for a couple of years.

Announcer:                OKWave, a popular consumer website in Japan will accept Bitcoins from now on at a press conference Roger Ver helps them spread the word.

Roger Ver:                 (Speaking Foreign Language) But today, one Bitcoin is 35,000 yen. If Bitcoin becomes popular worldwide then this will definitely be millions, or tens of millions.

Unidentified Male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Roger will now explain things for us. Roger, can you tell us what's so good about Bitcoin?

Roger Ver:                 (Speaking Foreign Language) Here it says what good money means but Nathalie speaks better Japanese than I do.  This is hard to explain.  Do you want to do it?

Nathalie:                     (Speaking Foreign Language) On the screen you can see several functions of Bitcoin.  For instance, Bitcoin has no transaction costs.  It's transparent and very open.  The most important positive aspects of money are strengthened even more.

Roger Ver:                 (Speaking Foreign Language) The money we used before Bitcoin did have a couple of these functions.  But for the first time in history, now there is Bitcoin.  It has the best qualities of money, and it will become the best currency worldwide.

Male:                          (Speaking Foreign Language) Who has a Bitcoin wallet?  I'll send you money now.  Sent.  It already arrived. Quick, huh?

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes, it arrived.

Roger Ver:                 (Speaking Foreign Language) In less than five seconds.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes, quick.

Roger Ver:                 (Speaking Foreign Language) If you install the app -- did you send it?  It arrived, right?  Now this is worth 1000 yen, but if it takes off worldwide, it could become a million.

Unidentified male:    Roger, are you giving Bitcoins away?

Roger Ver:                 I'm giving every single person here 1000 yen worth of Bitcoins which is like $8 and something cents.

Unidentified male:    Okay.

Roger Ver:                 I've given away thousands of whole Bitcoins to just various people on Facebook that would post their Bitcoin address and this is back when Bitcoins were a couple of dollars each.  So, I'm sure those people are pretty happy at this point.

Announcer:                How could this digital coin invented by this Satoshi Nakamoto become hundreds of times more valuable than the dollar and why do enthusiasts like Roger Ver want the world to switch to Bitcoins.  To understand this, we need to look at how new Bitcoins are created.  A complex process called mining.  Promotional videos make it look as if everyone can just mine Bitcoins.

Unidentified male:    Millions of people all over the world earn real crypto money daily.  It's quite simple, just download the special software, connect to the web, and wait for your profits to roll in.  For mining, you don't need any special knowledge, you can mine at home, at work, or to café, anywhere there's access to the internet.  And, in fact, lots of people have already received a good income from mining.

Unidentified male:    It's interesting, but does it get us --

Marshall Long:         Does it get you out of the bed in the morning, no, it doesn't.  I get it.

Unidentified male:    Huh?

Marshall Long:         It doesn't get you out of the bed in the morning.  No, it doesn't.  I get it.

Announcer:                Marshall Long was one of the world's first Bitcoin miners.  Now, he's the CEO of Final Hash, a company that professionally mines Bitcoins.

Marshall Long:         Okay.  Well, that's fine.  We can talk about it more in Chicago.  That's fine, so.

Unidentified male:    Thanks.

Marshall Long:         Back in the early days, you know, I get phone calls from my buddies, "Oh, hey man.  I lost 10,000 Bitcoins because my computer blew up," right.  Back then one Bitcoin was less than a penny, right.  So, nobody care, they lost $10.  I don't care, right.  Now, 10,000 Bitcoins, that's $5 million.  That's a big deal, right.  So now it's interesting to see how the industry has changed.  There wasn't YouTube videos and all these nice things to show you how to mine, so it took me about three weeks to hook up computer up to figure out how to do this mining.  And back in the good days, that you could take a laptop like this and you could mine maybe 100 or 200 coins in a day.  When summer time in Houston came, my wife was like, "This AC has been on for 24 hours.  It's really hot.  What you're doing up there?"  I said, "Oh, you know, I'm just running some computers."  And she walks up there and you see 50 graphics cards all running at the same time and it's very hot.  She's like, "Okay, you got to get out of here.  You got to figure something else out because it is too hot."

Jerry:                          Hey, what's up Nerd Caves & Fans?  Jerry's here AKA Barnacules.  I'm here with Marshall Long from @FinalHash.  Now we're out here and I would say what's going to be the largest Bitcoin mine in North America.  And it's realistically an actual mining operation like you can pretty much attribute everything that's going on here.

Marshall Long:         It's a gold mine.

Jerry:                          So, it's like, a real gold mining operation.  It's like you have heavy equipment.  You have cost.  You have fuel cost.

Marshall Long:         Yeah.

Jerry:                          And you have recovery.

Marshall Long:         Everything.

Jerry:                          That you then go and sell and turn into real money.

Marshall Long:         That's right.

Jerry:                          Okay.  How many of these machines are in here?  You got S4s, S5s every day.  Actually, this looks like mostly S4 is on.

Unidentified male:    Mostly S4s in here.

Jerry:                          This is literally the loudest place ever.  It's like being in a wind tunnel.  Got air bullet through the top.  Move your head around and these things are all blowing out massive air.  Now, the cooling in here is so efficient.  And if you put your hand back here behind the units where they're drawing air, it's freezing cold.  It is nice ice-cold air coming in here.  You put your hand in the front down the center, it is burning, burning hot. So, if you're asking yourself, is Bitcoin mining profitable on this scale?  Hell, yes, it is.

Announcer:                A Bitcoin is the reward for solving complex mathematical puzzles and Bitcoin miners let their computers work day and night to complete these tasks.  All the Bitcoin users in the world are connected and together they constitute a network that processes and checks all Bitcoin transactions in a public ledger called the Blockchain and Satoshi Nakamoto designed it in such a way that users can create a free and anonymous Bitcoin account number, a so-called Wallet.  Satoshi's invention eliminates the need for a central bank because all the users together are the bank.  But early Bitcoin users had no idea how big Bitcoin and the Blockchain would become.

Garrick Hileman:      I think sometime in spring of 2010, I could be wrong on the exact dates.  But basically, someone put out a request, saying "Hey, I'd like to buy something with Bitcoin.  Will anyone buy me a pizza?"  And I believe someone here in England bought the person in Florida a pizza for 10,000 or something Bitcoins and maybe worth a very large sum of money today.  And that was the first Bitcoin commercial transaction.

Announcer:                Garrick Hileman, an economist at the London School of Economics, was one of the first scholars to study Bitcoin and the Blockchain as a serious monetary system.

Unidentified Male:    As a scholar, I think you should have labeled it or was this something totally new to you?

Unidentified Male:    It looked very different to me.  I mean, as soon as I heard the word decentralized and the fact there was a network powering this currency rather than a central issuer, that immediately captured my interest as something quite different based on what little I knew about alternative currencies at that time.  What it meant for people who are libertarians in particular is that the government couldn't come in and shutdown a server and end Bitcoin, it would have to shut down the entire internet or turn off the electricity grid to stop Bitcoin.  And so that was really attractive to people who are worried about these types of things.

Announcer:                Many of the early Bitcoin enthusiasts were libertarians who saw Bitcoin as the ultimate remedy for state intervention.  This was also what attracted Roger Ver to Bitcoin.  In his early 20s, he was a candidate for the Libertarian Party in California.  But during his campaign, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for trafficking illegal fireworks.  According to him, this was a political case brought by people who opposed his ideas.

Roger Ver:                 I have a two Bitcoin related gears.  I have the, and I have the, Bitcoin Blockchain logo.

Unidentified male:    Do you think it was a political case?

Roger Ver:                 There's no doubt in my mind, whatsoever.  And, in fact, even at one of the pre-trial conference things with the ATF agents, my attorney and the U.S. attorney.  My attorney was saying "Hey, these are store-bought firecrackers we sold on eBay.  We can pay a fine.  Do some community service and you're done with this."  There's no reason to destroy my life over and send me to prison and make me a felon.  And the U.S. attorney at that point was kind of nodding his head like that sounds reasonable.  The ATF agent literally pounded his hand on the table and shouted, "But you didn't hear the things that he said," which I think summed up very clearly.  They weren't mad about anything that I had done.  They're mad about the things that I had said because the ideas that I'm trying to spread are subversive to the state.  I did 10 months in federal prison and I was scared of the U.S. government.  The moment I was allowed to leave the U.S., I left.  And I haven't lived there ever since.  And they have what's called the Exit Tax.  So, at the time you announced you're a United States citizen, they tax you on your entire net worth that capital gains tax rates and you have to pay them that money otherwise they'll probably either send you to jail or at the very least not ever let you back in the country ever again.  If you think about it, it's not all that different than slaves from the past having to buy their freedom from the plantation owner.

Unidentified Male:    Money creation by the state is sort of connected to state aggression for you, right?

Roger Ver:                 In my line of thinking as if you or I create counterfeit euros or print euros or dollars or yen, we would go to jail for counterfeiting because it's destructive to the economy.  By counterfeiting dollars, it's stealing from everybody else in the economy that has money.  When governments do the exact same thing, it has the exact same negative effects.  The only difference is they call it fancy names like quantitative easing or economic stimulus but it's destructive for the exact same reasons.  My hobby growing up and in high school and since has been studying economics.  And the more you study economics, the more you realize that all these government interventions in the economy prevent the world from becoming as wealthy and prosperous as it otherwise would become.  And suddenly now we have this tool that separates money from state like everybody today thinks that separating church and state.  Yeah, of course, they should be separated.  But a couple 100 years ago, it was heresy: just hit that church the state should be separated.  And today, it sounds maybe a little bit crazy to say that money and state should be separated.  But I think in another decade or two, people are going to think, "Oh, what the heck were we thinking letting governments be in charge of money that cost so many problems in so many misallocations of resources around the world?"  Of course, Bitcoin is better.

Unidentified Male:    Okay.  Thank you.

Announcer:                Why is the governments and banks monopoly on money creation seen as undesirable?  In his whitepaper, Satoshi Nakamoto didn't express his opinion on this.  But it does seem that he wanted Bitcoins to appreciate rather than depreciate unlike money.  He programmed Bitcoin in such a way that there's a maximum of 21 million Bitcoins to be mined.  Bitcoins weren't meant to resemble money but gold.  In November 2013, this dream became reality when one Bitcoin was worth an ounce of gold.  The Bitcoin code itself has never been hacked.  But in 2014, the customer data of Mt. Gox, an online exchange office, was stolen by hackers causing the Bitcoin exchange rate to plummet.  At the Financial Times in London, journalist Izabella Kaminska has been critically following the Bitcoin exchange rate and community since the very beginning.

Izabella Kaminska:   I've always been a geek about finance and I've always been a geek about how the system works.  So, like the really boring nuts and bolts, the plumbing of the system.  And I think in 2008, it was the first time we all really fought actually.  Not only is the system as it as we know it possibly crumbling, there might be opportunities for new systems to come up as a result of it.

Unidentified Male:    Yeah, exactly.

Izabella Kaminska:   Why?  Yes, I guess I start writing about it again around here, 2012.  And then we had the first little rally and then this is also clasp.  This is very reminiscent to the classic bubble, so.  So, you see this is the famous bubble chart which has take off first seller of bear traps as the first little micro mini dump.  And you go to the new total bubble, then it crashes, and it's a bit of like a return.  People think maybe it's going to come back and then it crashes again and then it gets back to a more realistic trajectory.  And you'll see that that really is very reminiscent to what we've seen here.  What everyone is really wondering is will we see a consolidation of this price or will it recover somewhat or will it go completely to zero.  And we're really--

Unidentified Male:    What do you think?

Izabella Kaminska:   I think what's best for Bitcoin is actually if it just stays stable so everybody agrees volatility is currently the biggest enemy of Bitcoin.

Unidentified Male:    Satoshi's dream, what would that be?

Izabella Kaminska:   The paper doesn't really say what his big dream was.  He just wanted an efficient mechanism that was cheap.  But in terms of what I think people have projected his vision as being is this world where we all are our own bank.  We don't have to depend on any intermediary.  And banks are gone in the current economy because of the way our system is structured if I decide to hold my dollars, I'm usually holding them in an institution that is using them as a means of capital raising and they will be lending them out.  So, my money even though I'm saving, that saving is going into an investment somewhere else being done by a bank, et cetera.  And it's helping to grow the economy.  So, my saving doesn't disadvantage the economy.  But in Bitcoin, there isn't that opportunity.  So hoarded Bitcoin is a hoarded Bitcoin.  It's totally idle.  It has no interest, it has no yield; it is simply sitting there, doing nothing, and yet the person who holds on to it thinks they have a right to future income flow as if they have been invested.

Unidentified Male:    When the line was flat, people like massively bought in or mined Bitcoins.  And they are now like multi-millionaire, billionaires.

Izabella Kaminska:   They're the new 1%.  They're the 1% of the Bitcoin economy which again goes against the whole democratization side of the argument.  Because really, you're not democratizing the economy, you're just transferring the power from the existing elite to a new elite.

Announcer:                The fact that a few early Bitcoin miners and investors are now multimillionaires is reminiscent of the current banking system in which bankers are accused of personal enrichment.

Brett Scott:                So I got this degree in international development.  And as I was with my dog on his Hill and I was like, "Yeah, what could I do?  I would go try and work in something like, say, East Africa.  I could try to go and explore economies there and see what's happening which I (Inaudible 00:26:59) things."  And I was like "Why don't I just try and break into the financial sector in London?  Thought it would actually be really, really fascinating.  That'd be really amazing."  And then once I had that thoughts, I couldn't -- I mean, I just became obsessed with this idea.

Announcer:                Brett Scott is the author of the book, Hacking the Future of Money, about reforming the financial sector to immerse himself in the system he criticized he worked for two years as a broker in the city of London.

Brett Scott:                We're now in the city.  We just passed the border checkin.

Unidentified Male:    Huh.  Yeah.

Brett Scott:                There's check ins marked at the boundaries of the City of London.

Unidentified Male:    It's the financial district.

Brett Scott:                Cut off of my hair, I bought my first suit.  Interestingly enough, I had two interviews with Lehman Brothers literally weeks before they went bust.  And I remember being up in the, sort of, like the 35th floor or something.  And the guy was like "I know everything's fine, everything's fine.  Don't believe the stories you've seen in the press about us."  And then they went under.  "If you created an entire society that was reliance on Bitcoin, yeah, you'd have massive problems with inequality."  But it's very important in that it's forms a kind of counter power to the existing bank payment system.  So, while I can critique Bitcoin as much as you want, I'm always aware that's the existing bank system is highly flawed and I lacked the fact that this exists as an alternative.  What's happening right now in a lot of the banking scene is just move towards -- it's called a cashless society.  But if you think what would that actually means, it means every single payment that you undertake has to go via a commercial bank.  Now, that means every single transaction you ever do will be monitored and recorded in a database somewhere.  It means you'll always be giving fees to various credit card companies and so on.  So, there's potential achievements of surveillance.  There's all sorts of problems that come with a cashless society.  In that world something like Bitcoin, which is an electronic version of cash or electronic full of, I guess, an electronic equivalent to cash, becomes quite important.  So St. Paul's Cathedral across there, which is where the Occupy movement set up camp in London and they were there for a long time.  They tried to occupy the London Stock Exchange, but weren't able to get in, so they show to St. Paul's instead.

Unidentified Male:    You think of Bitcoin and the whole movement being as a sort of better form of Occupy?

Brett Scott:                It's a different form of Occupy.  Maybe it's a follow-on from the Occupy movement in some ways.

Announcer:                Bitcoin as a form of protest against the current banking system is propagated in the Netherlands by three Bitcoin enthusiasts who have created an app called Bitcasa and who are now trying to convince all retailers in Arnhem to accept Bitcoins.

van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) When I talk to people about how Bitcoin works, at first they're surprised. They think it's very special.  But these people also don't have a clue how the current system works.  Because it's pretty hard to believe how it works.


Rogier Eijkelhof:       (Speaking Foreign Language) People feel a lot of resistance, or they even deny that there are a few companies that create all the money and that people, companies, and even governments borrow it from these banks.  But these banks literally create it out of thin air, so that's very wrong.

Annet de Boer:          (Speaking Foreign Language) This is the map of Arnhem.  This is the center, and here's the fashion quarter.  You can see that the Bitcoin acceptors are spread out, but mostly in the center there's a huge number of Bitcoin acceptors.

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) You can spend a fun week here without euros?

Annet de Boer:          (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes, you can have a lot of fun.  You can spend the night, there are leisure activities like the wine museum, bowling.

  1. van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) We've already had several Bitcoin tourists who came to Arnhem because we started something here that allows you to have a great weekend, while only spending Bitcoins.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Not so many payments yet, right?

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) No, not so many.  A couple of people have used Bitcoins, but--

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) But there could be more.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Definitely.  I prefer Bitcoins to debit card payments, but we'll see.  Everyone's so crazy about debit cards, but everybody has a smartphone.  And banks just take too much money for everything.  So you have to rent or buy a terminal, you have to buy bundles, the deposits, all those things together just cost too much money.

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) As an entrepreneur, you get Bitcoins but through the BitKassa system you get paid in euros?

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) Yeah.

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) And when would you decide to keep the Bitcoins and not change them into euros?

Unidentified male:     (Speaking Foreign Language) If there's really a tipping point.  When you really start noticing a snowball effect, which you see it grow and you think, "This is going to work."  And then we just continue.

  1. van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) These students will all receive Bitcoins. Tonight, we'll hand them out.  Yes?  I'll send the Bitcoins now.  They should all arrive at the same time.  They're on their way.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes, I've got it.  12.79.

  1. van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) 12.79?

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) 63,000 Bitcoins.

  1. van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) How is it different from the euro, you think?

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) It goes up and down much more.

  1. van der Meijde: (Speaking Foreign Language) The exchange rate?

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Yes.

Unidentified male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) You don't really know what you have.  For instance, we just got 12.69, but now it's 12.72.

Announcer:                Beside the ease of use, the Arnhem students have also noticed a less pleasant quality to Bitcoins.  The fluctuating exchange rate compared to other currencies which could make a beer a couple of cents cheaper or more expensive between ordering and serving.

Garrick Hileman:      So Bitcoin in my mind definition is not money.  The key to something being money in my opinion is that it's a widely used unit of account meaning that goods and services are priced in it.  So when you go to the coffee shop you see something priced in Bitcoin.  That's not true.  There are coffee shops where there are prices in Bitcoin, but that price is changing constantly based on the currency it's linked to.  So, the pound, for example, here in England lost 20% of its value recently.  But the price of coffee didn't change, it was still 99p.  That's what it means to be a unit of account and Bitcoin is not that.  The price adjusts based on its exchange rate continuously.

Unidentified Male:    Do you see Bitcoin as a form of money or as a digital gold?

Roger Ver:                 So I see gold as money.  And I see Bitcoin as having all the same properties of gold with one property that -- actually couple properties are even better.  So, gold is kind of hard to divide.  Bitcoin divides down to eight decimal points instantly super easily.  Gold is really, really difficult to transport.  If I want to transport gold from here to Moscow, it'll cost a bunch of money to do that and it's dangerous, you have to have armed guards, and who knows what.  With Bitcoin, I can send Bitcoin from here to Moscow or to the Holland instantly just like that basically for free.  I don't have to pay for a bunch of armed guards.  It just happens almost like magic.

Brett Scott:                If you ever ask somebody why they think gold's valuable, can everybody tell you, they would just give you like weird stories around ads like a precious metal, isn't it?  It's pretty.  While we think it has all its intrinsic value, this intrinsic value of gold has been largely constructed in people's heads.  It's often by a shield like association with power, association with religious figures, and Bitcoin has potential for similar types of construction.  You could create the sense of this almost like a commodity like token that has no immediate sort of value to it, but can be imbued with value.

Marshall Long:         As more people start to mind, they become harder and harder to find.  So it's kind of been -- I correlated to like an arms race, right.  The guy with the biggest gun wins at this point.  So, this is the newest place we've started working on here.  This is a place in the mountains in China.  It's cool and it doesn't rain that much so we can cool it very efficiently.

Unidentified Male:    How much do you pay for that electricity on a daily basis?

Marshall Long:         I'll lend all of my minds together.  We're probably paying about $100,000, maybe a little bit more.

Unidentified Male:    A day?

Marshall Long:         Yeah.

Unidentified Male:    You're paying $100,000 a day?

Marshall Long:         I'm sorry.  That's per month, I'm sorry.

Unidentified Male:    Okay. Okay.

Marshall Long:         But Bitcoin in general, all myself and all my colleagues combined, it's about a million dollars a day in power.

Unidentified Male:    In power consumption?

Marshall Long:         Yeah.

Unidentified Male:    And you guys generate what worth of coins?

Marshall Long:         We're generating -- of course, it depends on the price, right.  But --

Unidentified Male:    Uh-huh.  The current market price?

Marshall Long:         Right.  So, we'll just say for 250.  We'll just put the price at $250 for easy numbers.  You're finding roughly around 25 Bitcoins every 10 minutes, so you just take that and times it by an hour.  So, you're finding around 150 Bitcoins an hour.  Take that times 24 and you do that times 250.  Do some practical.  So, we're making about $900,000 per day.  So, a lot of people ask, "How is that possible?"  And the reality is a lot of the Chinese guys.  They are mining at a negative profit.  One of my friends in Beijing I met him last month.  I met him up again and I asked him, "Last time I checked, man, your power was pretty expensive.  Why are you still mining?"  And his only words were, "I can't stop."  "So, what do you mean you can't stop, you're losing money?"  He's like "Well, I can't.  I have all these pieces of equipment and I just can't stop."

Unidentified Male:    It's gold fever, right?

Marshall Long:         That's right.  And it's interesting because a lot of my colleagues don't see it as a business subconsciously.  They kind of get addicted to it and kind of get crazy about it.

Jin Xin:                       (Speaking Foreign Language) This is the first Bitcoin mine in Changcheng.  Three floors, we're on the first.  On this scale and with this equipment we can mine 20 to 25 Bitcoins a day.  There are 3000 computers here. 

Unidentified Male:    (Speaking Foreign Language) Most employees live here while they're working.  Compared to other employees in traditional lines of business, our employees make a lot of money.

Jin Xin:                      (Speaking Foreign Language) This is the room where employees can relax.  They lead a simple, maybe even boring life.  When they're not working, they sleep, read, or play with their mobile phones.

Izabella Kaminska:   So what was supposed to be a very democratic system has ended up concentrating it exactly the same way that we have seen the bank's concentrate their business.  So now you have most of the miners are based in China or most of the miners are huge server farms that the average person can't be a miner anymore in Bitcoin.  It's far, that the barriers to entry are now really, really quite expensive that you have to invest in at least thousands of dollars of equipment if you want to be a miner.

Max Keiser:               And a lot of people who got into the first year of Bitcoin actually had mental breakdowns.  It was so beautiful.  It was like you're seeing some of the most remarkable art ever for the first time.

Izabella Kaminska:   One of the qualities that I don't like about the community is that it's extremely absolutist.  It's very politically led and it assumes that it's political ideology is the correct one and it kind of frosts its political ideology on everybody else.  So, say I don't want political ideology when I'm paying for my coffee.  I just want a payment network that works and that allows me to benefit from smooth transaction.

Unidentified Male:    Lots of paper money.  So this is a receipt and this is my public address and private key.

Unidentified Male:    You got it covered for us so we cannot film it.

Unidentified Male:    That's right.

Announcer:                Over the past two years, new members are increasingly joining the Bitcoin community not for ideological reasons but for practical ones.

Roger Ver:                 In Kiev, there are some protests happening so people start using social media to share their QR code.  Within a matter of days, they automatically had $15,000 in their wallets from sympathizers to the protest that money was transferred from around the world.  It's an incredibly powerful example because today I spent seven years in Nicaragua and today I still cannot use PayPal to transfer money to my friends in Nicaragua.

Announcer:                Whether or not Bitcoin will be worth millions isn't the main question for many computer scientists, investors and hackers.  To them, Satoshi Nakamoto's real invention is the Blockchain technology, a global open ledger which can be used to share much more than just money.

Unidentified Female:You may think that Bitcoin is just another way to pay for a cup of coffee, but it's not.  Bitcoin is just the denomination used to pay the toll to put stuff on this global ledger.  Now if you think about it, time stamp recordings of deaths, births, property transactions, votes, this is the entire fabric of our civilization which makes the Blockchain one of the most profound human innovations of our time because having a massive global ledger as a public utility can completely reorganize the way that we run our societies.

Izabella Kaminska:   Fundamentally, Blockchain is a database sort of mechanism and it's a standard, it's a protocol.  And one of the problems we have in an increasingly globalized system is that everyone is operating their systems on their own local standards.  And getting people to do everything in a uniform way that benefits all of us like bringing in the metric system.  That is really, really hard.  Blockchain offers an opportunity to start this new exciting technological industry from a standard that is globalized and potentially uniform.  So I see the potential that way.

Announcer:                The decentralized Blockchain makes it possible to share data publicly without a single party controlling the system.  In the Blockchain, all participants in the network are equal.  Maybe inventor Satoshi Nakamoto saw Bitcoin as just the first experiment with this form of digital democracy.

Brett Scott:                I think Blockchain technology is really authentically fascinating.  I think it's anybody who ignores it and in (Inaudible 00:43:28) is probably making a mistake.  I think it's definitely not going to get smaller.

Announcer:                But to this day, the true identity of the architect behind this revolutionary technology remains a mystery.

Garrick Hileman:      We can't ask Satoshi questions, which is really frustrating, right.  But it's also again part of I think the magic of Bitcoin is that we can all kind of imagine this technology for as we see it rather than just as Satoshi did.  So it could be used in this way even if Satoshi didn't intended to be this widely worldwide distributed thing.  I think Satoshi probably did, but it still could be that.  And we can make it that.

Unidentified Male:    Satoshi around here somewhere in Tokyo?

Marshall Long:         Yeah.  I think I see him right there.  Oh, that's a question I get a lot actually.  A lot of people have asked me who Satoshi is since I got in so early.  I think I've got a pretty good idea, but I like to keep that one close to my chest, so.

Unidentified Male:    Why, I mean, tell me?

Marshall Long:         Because I'm not 100% certain.  And the reality is it doesn't really matter, right.  It doesn't matter who Satoshi is because now it's kind of grown beyond like a pet project, right.

Unidentified Male:    But what I mean, Satoshi owns how much, how many coins?

Marshall Long:         I think he's got about 500,000 locked up.

Announcer:                With his Blockchain technology, inventor Satoshi Nakamoto has completely relinquished his control of Bitcoin.  But he does own 120th of all Bitcoins himself.  So if one day, Bitcoin does become widely accepted as a currency he will be one of the richest people on earth.

Unidentified Male:    People might find that scary, a new currency or system based on an inventor who owns already, well, 120th of all the currency invented?

Roger Ver:                 Yeah.

Unidentified Male:    Isn't that a problem?

Roger Ver:                 Satoshi invented one of the most important inventions in the entire history of humankind.  That's going to improve the lives of everybody on the planet for the better.  If he had half of all the Bitcoins, he would still deserve it.

Unidentified Male:    Who do you think Satoshi is?

Izabella Kaminska:   I think it's probably a band of people who decided that a nom de plume was the best way to go precisely because if it did take off, there would be too many consequences for a individual, one person, or even a group of people.  And from my perspective, you never make a move of this sort without a myth.  You need a sort of foundation myth.  Every good sort of system of power has a foundation myth.  And it's always best if the leader is either anonymous or aloof or in some way distant from the public because you have to create a sort of mythology around him.  And because Satoshi nobody knows he is, this -- if we knew who he was it would almost ruin the whole thing for everybody, I think.

Unidentified Male:    Why did he disappear, you think?

Roger Ver:                 He undermined the ability of every single government on the entire planet to control the money supply.  And that's how every single government in the world is controlling their citizens and their economies today.  And he just basically knocked their feet right out from under them with the invention of Bitcoin.  And I'm sure that's going to make a lot of people who want to control other people by force.  I'm really, really upset.  So, yeah, I think it's really, really smart for him to have disappeared.  And for me, it probably would have been smarter for me to keep quiet, too, but Bitcoins too exciting for me to stay quiet about.  I think a lot of people are under estimating the way in which Bitcoin and the Blockchain are going to change the power structures in society in general.  I mean, I grew up in the U.S. and I see all these people like, yeah, nuke everybody in the Middle East and kill them all.  And then they have the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes, one of the most popular news shows in the U.S. and they asked her, they said like, there's reports that more than half a million Iraqi children have died as a direct result of U.S. sanctions.  And she looks back at her with a straight face and she goes, "It was a really tough decision, but I think that it was worth it."  Worth?  Murdering half a million kids because of what the government did?  And I apologized for crying, but it just disgusts me from my core when I see government people murdering people around the world.  It's not just theoretical these were real people with real lives.  And it's real people and Bitcoin has the power to undermine everything they're doing to people around the world.  And I'm sorry for shouting, but it just disgusts me what these people in government do.  And they do it through central banking and through the control of the money supply and Bitcoin takes that away from them.


Written by Melvin Draupnir on November 1, 2015.