Whether you’re a web enthusiast or someone who simply jumps online to check social media, the chances are you’ve come across the term ‘bitcoin’ at least once in the past few years.
While most of us do our buying and selling in standard currency like dollars and cents, there is a growing number of web users who are turning to this so-called cryptocurrency for the same purpose. Originally released to the world in 2009, the concept revolves around users transferring the currency to each other’s digital wallets.
For many, the benefits are that it can be moved anywhere in the world quickly and easily without the charges and fees commonly associated with traditional banks. However, it is also known to be fairly volatile, although values did recently hit a three-year high with a single bitcoin being worth $1,105.
The concept has captured the attention of many internet users and companies in recent years, with examples of its use including coders being paid in the currency for doing work related to a hedge fund. It has even entered gaming with sites like Vegas Mobile Casino offering people the chance to play casino games and bet on sports using bitcoin too. In order to play on the site you can either exchange standard currency for bitcoins or try your hand at bitcoin ‘mining’. The latter is the process of adding transactions to the bitcoin public ledger which in turn also releases new bitcoins. This makes it an ideal way to get started in this world.
Considering its impact, it is unsurprising that filmmakers have tried to bring stories about bitcoin to the big screen. A number of documentaries have been made on the topic in recent years, with each showcasing their unique take on the subject matter.
A Currency Crash Course
No documentary title probably best captures the attention around the issue like Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It. This hour-long film was made through crowdfunding and is a good starting point on the issue, as it looks at the general history of money up to the introduction of bitcoin. It also tries to tackle the question that many continue to grapple with – whether the currency is truly going to change the world in a good or bad way.
Banking on Bitcoin, which was released last year, offers a similar take on the issue. However, it also examines how the new currency has affected major financial institutions and regulators, which have understandably been shaken somewhat by its emergence.
But what if your interest is less in the broader, political implications of the currency and more related to the personal stories around its use?
Nicholas Mross’s 2014 film The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin offers a slightly different take on the subject matter, as it follows a Pittburgh computer programmer as he discovers and explores the potential of the currency. This more personal look at bitcoin is then a jumping-off point into a wider look at the culture surrounding the concept.
Another different way of viewing bitcoin’s impact is provided by Bitcoin In Uganda, a short film by Bitcoinfilm.org. While it has admittedly been created to promote the benefits of the currency, it provides a fascinating glimpse into how it helps a young boy in Uganda receive funds to pay for his studies from his sister in the USA. Among the specific benefits is that the currency can be transferred quickly and without charges to a country where traditional banking methods are not that common.
Just the Beginning
Considering the ongoing discussion and debate around bitcoin, there are unsurprisingly many other documentaries which have attempted to tackle the subject. However, those mentioned above should be a good introduction to this world, whether you’re driven simply by curiosity or keen to get involved yourself.