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Top 10 Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Documentaries

We’re excited about the future of digital currency here at Genesis Mining, and we want you to be too. We’ve collected our top ten favorite documentaries on Bitcoin for education and entertainment.

Learn about Satoshi Nakamoto’s paper that founded Bitcoin, and the mystery behind the anonymous creator. Journey along with a couple attempting to use only Bitcoin for 100 days. Get an education on the history of money and fiscal policy. Discover early innovators in the space and major events along Bitcoin’s timeline. See how Bitcoin is comparable to the early internet and hear about the ways it could reform society as we know it.

Since the world of Bitcoin is rapidly changing, we ordered these chronologically. Most documentaries are free to watch, but some need to be rented; we include where to find them.

Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

2014 | 96 min.

Daniel, a thirty-something database administrator, is a Bitcoin enthusiast and mines Bitcoin in his basement. The Rise And Rise of Bitcoin follows him as he finds out more about Bitcoin, from interviewing early adopters in the space like Charlie Shrem of BitInstant and Jered Kenna of TradeHill, to his experience purchasing goods with Bitcoin from vendors, to buying more rigs for his basement mining operation. The documentary only follows him for a year (2013), but gets his reactions as major events in Bitcoin history happen.

Why we like it: Following Daniel as our guide makes Bitcoin personal and accessible.

Where to watch: YouTube, Tubi, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu

The Bitcoin Gospel

2015 | 50 min.

Like The Rise and Rise of BitcoinThe Bitcoin Gospel zooms in on select individuals in the Bitcoin space, including Roger Ver, a Bitcoin evangelist; Marshall Long, one of the first Bitcoin miners; Brett Scott, a financial activist; and Izabella Kaminska, a Financial Times journalist. This documentary gives us a sense of how Bitcoin works on the ground, its origin story, and how it can be a major disruptor in global economics — but it also brings up some of the major drawbacks of the system as well.

Why we like it: Individual stories bring Bitcoin down to an everyday level.

Where you can watch it: Tubi, YouTube

Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It

2015 | 60 min.

This is the crash course in monetary history and fiscal policy you never learned in school — and it’s not boring. Starting with the first government bailout in ancient Rome, this documentary traces the creation of currency in early civilizations, to the evolution of debit and credit under the Medici family, to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, to Nixon’s suspension of the gold standard in 1971, to 2008’s recession. What’s the point? To see how banks are inherently flawed in how they conduct business, and to offer Bitcoin as an innovation and evolution past traditional institutions.

Why we like it: History! And when you know the failures of history, you know how to innovate for the future.

Where you can watch it: YouTube, Vimeo

The Bitcoin Story

2015 | 35 min.

If you only have a half hour, start here for a Bitcoin 101 with early experts in the field. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto and what was in his white paper? How does Bitcoin work? How do you mine something that’s digital? What problems is Bitcoin trying to solve? Who would an early adopter of a new currency be? This is before VC investments in Bitcoin and more widespread understanding, but it’s great to see the early thoughts and excitement over the future.

Why we like it: Great crash course in the evolution of Bitcoin.

Where you can watch it: Amazon

Banking On Bitcoin

2016 | 84 min.

Banking on Bitcoin tells the story of Bitcoin’s history, from its roots in 1990s cypherpunk activity, to Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, to the first Bitcoin exchange, to the Silk Road fiasco, to NYC’s failed attempts at regulation. With a wide range of voices from the cryptocurrency, tech, finance, and journalism world, this documentary focuses on individual stories of the key players of Bitcoin’s rise, and with engaging animations that explain key concepts, Banking on Bitcoin is a great introduction to learning about the people creating, innovating, sacrificing, and fighting for Bitcoin’s place in the world.

Why we like it: Great storytelling, engaging animations, and a variety of voices makes this documentary both entertaining and educational.

Where to watch: Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, Tubi, Google Play, Vudu

Life on Bitcoin          

2017 | 94 min.

Newlyweds Austin and Beccy had a goal for their first 100 days of marriage: They would live solely on Bitcoin. Life on Bitcoin follows their journey as they try to figure out paying for everyday things (they had to stop their parents from dropping off food!) and try to figure out a trip around the world. They did this experiment in 2013, and while they found many places that didn’t take Bitcoin then, they were able to educate restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and even their landlord on how to use it.

Why we like it: It’s one of the more unique documentaries here, and, while dated, shows the everyday reality of new innovation adoption.

Where you can watch it: VidAngel

The Blockchain and Us

2017 | 31 min.

Could the blockchain be an invention that’s as revolutionary as the Wright brothers taking flight? This award-winning documentary is short on technical specs about the blockchain, but long on hope, inspiration, and application. Through a series of mini-interviews, industry leaders in business, financial services, technology, and government discuss the various ways in which blockchain technology can benefit and advance society in areas of trust, identity protection, and security while solving issues of financial equality.

Why we like it: You won’t learn how the blockchain works here, but it’s great to see so many people from so many different industries be excited about the future of blockchain.

Where you can watch it: blockchain-documentary.com, YouTube

Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain

2018 | 84 min.

This documentary travels around the world to look at how blockchain technology is being used for change: providing identity tokens for refugees, creating energy-shares in localized neighborhoods, reimagining how artists get paid for their work, giving people in emerging markets new options to earn a living, and more. It’s also a documentary about the internet and its evolution since the mid-1990s, what it means to have a connected network open to all, and what happens when governments try to regulate innovation. (Also, Genesis Mining makes an appearance!)

Why we like it: It shows us blockchain technology in action, and its infinite possibilities.

Where you can watch it: iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play

Bit x Bit: In Bitcoin We Trust

2019 | 77 min.

Through interviews, animations, and pop culture nods, Bit x Bit is a look into all things Bitcoin, where leaders in the space — some from the early years of Bitcoin, but many new to it — tell the story of Bitcoin’s founding, from how it was initially considered “nerd money” to how it has become a real currency option for the unbanked. Because it’s one of the more recent documentaries on our list, the film shows how Bitcoin evolved past events from other documentaries into the broader adoption phase it hoped to achieve.

Why we like it: A comprehensive, up-to-date, entertaining look at all things Bitcoin.

Where you can watch it: Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of the Internet

2020 | 86 min.

Torsten Hoffman, who made Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It on our list, returns with his search for what the state of crypto — or the dream of it — is today. He finds that Bitcoin and blockchain offer different dreams to different people, but that no one can agree on what the new evolving Cryptopia should be. Could it include everything? As the most recent documentary here, we get the most updated information on the state of Bitcoin, including the Bitcoin/Bitcoin cash split, as well as information on Ethereum and other coins and blockchains.

Why we like it: It’s fascinating to watch how something comparable to the early internet is evolving before our eyes today.

Where you can watch it: cryptopiafilm.com

Everything You Need to Know About Fractional-Reserve Banking

What’s that you say? You don’t know the first thing about what fractional-reserve banking is or how it works? You’re not alone. We recently conducted a study of 1,000 US consumers and nearly 26% of respondents believed that banks were required to hold 100% of customer deposits in reserves.
This article will explain why that’s not accurate and is meant to serve as a primer on fractional-reserve banking by answering basic questions about what exactly fractional banking is, how it came to be, how it works, and its pros and cons. You may just figure out that fractional-reserve banking is, or could be, a larger part of your life than you ever realized.
And, for crypto enthusiasts, this article may serve as a reinforcement that we need to move away from fractional-reserve banking into more sustainable, inherently fair and secure means of exchange and wealth management.
What is fractional-reserve banking?

 

Source: Bankroll Zen

Fractional-reserve banking is a system by which banks lend out their customers’ deposits to generate a profit through interest. You may think that your money is being stored in some vault in your bank of choice — 26% of respondents in our recent survey of 1,000 US consumers believed that banks are required to keep 100% of deposits in their reserves. Newsflash: they’re not required to keep all customers’ deposits on hand — not by a long shot.
The ‘fractional’ in ‘fractional-reserve banking’ alludes to the fact that banks are only required to hold a fraction of deposited funds in their reserves. While that fraction remains stored with an account within the central bank or in the bank’s immediate currency reserves, much of customers’ deposited funds are lent back out to earn the bank money through interest payments.
Fractional-reserve banking essentially allows banks to use the capital of savers as credit for borrowers. Proponents argue that this is critical to powering the wheels of the American economy, while critics are more concerned with bank runs and other risks that have arisen from the flaws in the fractional-reserve banking system.
What’s the history of fractional-reserve banking?

Some believe that fractional-reserve banking dates back to some unnamed goldsmith who realized that he could lend out a portion of his gold, earn interest on it, and sneak it back into the reserves before anyone was the wiser. That may be the case, but we tend to point to more tangible examples when detailing the history of the modern fractional-reserve banking system.
Most believe that the origins of fractional-reserve banking lie in the Early Middle Ages. As more people stored their wealth with banks, they wanted to simplify the process for paying for goods and services. So instead of guaranteeing that you would receive the exact same coins you deposited when a customer chose to withdraw them, banks began to treat a deposit balance as an IOU of sorts.
This allowed banks to transfer coins from one account to another as a form of payment between two customers, instead of a customer having to withdraw their coins, pay a fee to do so, hand those coins over to the person they wished to pay, etc. These systems evolved into the 1400s and today, where banks have the freedom to transfer funds between accounts and even loan your funds out to a third party, so long as they maintain a legally required amount of customers’ deposits in their reserves.
How does fractional banking work?

In order to understand fractional-reserve banking, it’s helpful to start with 100%-reserve banking. Banks that are 100%-reserve banks keep one-hundred percent of their customers’ deposits in their reserves, whether that’s in-house or in an account with the central bank. Fractional-reserve banking states that banks must only keep a fraction of customers’ deposits — typically far less than 100% of them — in reserves at any given time.
So, let’s say that a bank has $50 million in customer deposits. Most banks are required to keep 10% of customer deposits in their reserves, so in this instance the bank would have to keep $5 million on hand. Once it has satisfied that requirement, bank decision makers are free to loan out the remaining $45 million in customer deposits as a means to accrue interest and add to its coffers.
Reserve requirements in America are set by the federal reserve and can be manipulated as a tool to stimulate economic activity. The interest that the banks collect as loans are repaid grows the money supply, and that growth is often exponential. Here’s why:
Once a bank loans out their available $45 million in deposited money to, let’s say, Tom, then Tom can deposit that money into another bank. So the lending bank keeps the $45 million on their books, and Tom will pay it back (at least in theory) over time, plus interest. Yet the bank into which Tom deposited the borrowed $45 million also adds that money to their books. This cycle can continue from bank to bank, resulting in enormous growth of the overall money supply.
What are the benefits of fractional banking?

Fractional-reserve banking has its benefits, including freer availability of credit and the ability for bank’s to reap additional money for their reserves. At least theoretically, these additional revenues will be seen by the customer in the form of interest on their bank deposits.
What are the disadvantages of fractional banking?

Critics of the fractional-reserve banking system don’t hold back: it’s a Ponzi scheme, they say. You’re robbing Peter (the depositor) to pay Paul (the borrower), and this is not sustainable in the long-run. Whether you agree with this perspective or not, there are glaring downsides of fractional-reserve banking that are difficult to refute.
For one, the money-multiplier effect of fractional-reserve banking results in a growing money supply. As the money supply grows — especially in the exponential manner created by the lending of financial reserves — the value of a dollar becomes less, which we also call inflation. A steady rise in inflation, say three percent, is to be expected and is generally associated with a healthy, growing economy. But over time, the rapidly growing money supply has seemingly resulted in a massive decrease in the U.S. dollar’s purchasing power.
Bank runs are also of concern. Say that signs of economic trouble cause 50%, or 100%, of a bank’s customers to withdraw their deposits. Well, the bank only has 10% of those funds on hand, let alone 50% or 100%. This scenario can cause widespread panic resulting in a Depression.
Similarly, if banks lend their money out unwisely (see: sub-prime mortgages), money may simply never be repaid as unqualified borrowers default on their loans. This means you’ve essentially flushed bank customers’ deposits down the drain, and doing this systematically can precipitate a recession or worse, as we witnessed in 2008-9.
Critics of fractional-reserve banking argue that the system contributes to the destruction of money’s real, intrinsic value. Combined with the rejection of the gold standard in both 1933 and 1971, fractional-reserve banking has rendered currency truly fiat.
For this reason, many see cryptocurrencies as a viable alternative with real, intrinsic value and systems that prevent straying too far from truly the truly collateralized medium of exchange.

5 Things To Know About Decentralized Finance – The DeFi Series

Decentralized finance, known as DeFi for short, is a trend in the crypto sphere gaining steam and showing promise, though credible reservations remain. Decentralized finance  is predicated on two primary principles:

  1. Decentralization, which is provided by blockchain technology
  2. Non-custodial products, meaning that there is no middleman between the user and the financial product being utilized, only a protocol
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With these founding principles laid out, what is decentralized finance? What are its benefits and drawbacks, and how is it being viewed through the all-seeing eyes of regulators?

What, Exactly, Is Decentralized Finance?

Breaking down the term “decentralized finance” may be a simple, yet effective starting point for explaining the emerging phenomenon.

Let’s start with finance.

According to Investopedia, the noun finance refers to “matters regarding the management, creation, and study of money and investments”. For the sake of the DeFi discussion, the management and creation of money and investments may be the most pertinent features of this definition.

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The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) provides specific examples of finance, including “investing, borrowing, lending, budgeting, saving, and forecasting”. Lending, investing, forecasting, and borrowing may generally be the most relevant of these examples when it comes to decentralized finance.

And what about the “decentralized” aspect of DeFi?

Merriam-Webster provides two definitions of “decentralization”:

  • the delegation of power from a central authority to regional and local authorities
  • the dispersion or distribution of functions and powers

Each of these definitions apply to decentralized finance. Collectively, decentralized finance appears to be the engagement in finance-related activities such as lending, borrowing, investing, and forecasting through means that have no central authority, where instead management over a financial system (insofar as there is management) is dispersed.

From a 1,000-foot view, this is an accurate depiction of the core tenets of DeFi. Now to get a bit more specific…

Decentralized finance comprises financial platforms and services built upon and powered by blockchain technology. These services vary in their purpose and specifics, but may generally allow users to borrow or lend cryptocurrency, purchase and sell coins, speculate on the future value of commodities, and purchase or sell tokenized assets.

Like other evolutions in the finance sector over the years, decentralized finance is a new way of engaging in the economic activities that facilitate the making (or losing, if you’re unlucky) of money. The primary pull factor is that, rather than requiring a middle man/institution, it is the users who control the mechanisms that facilitate their transactions (at least in theory).

What Allows DeFi to Work?

In short, blockchain technology and specific protocols allow decentralized finance to function. Beneath both of these critical elements is the internet, without which blockchain technology would not be possible.

One definition of a protocol is a “set of rules or procedures that govern the transfer of data between two or more electronic devices”. When protocols exist on a blockchain, a network of computers, known as nodes, carry out specific protocols. These protocols govern features of a blockchain such as:

  • The algorithmic mechanisms by which nodes communicate
  • The means of approving transactions within the blockchain
  • The means by which new nodes are accepted into the blockchain

These protocols undergird blockchains in general, and are therefore the enablers of decentralized financial products. The specific ends to which DeFi application founders use these protocols determines what each product can do for its users.

What Are the Benefits of Decentralized Finance?

The benefits of decentralized finance vary from one general DeFi category to the next, and even one application to another.

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But, generally speaking, the benefits of decentralized finance lie primarily in decentralization as a principle. Without decentralization, the benefits of DeFi become far less obvious.

The thinking goes that centralized financial institutions are flawed in several ways, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of control over how the system works by those who prop the system up (the financial consumer)
  • Lack of transparency into how decisions affecting the financial system are made
  • Lack of control over and transparency into how your specific deposits are handled
  • The potential that arbitrary or bad-faith decisions by financial institutions or regulatory bodies could put your deposits at risk

Proponents of DeFi aim to flip these flaws on their heads. Their goal: to use the antithesis of centralized financial institutions—decentralized financial products—as the selling point for their DeFi products.

In an ideal decentralized financial system, benefits would include:

  • Democratic control by participants (financial consumers) over how a system works
  • No central authority with outsize power to affect the fate of participants’ deposits
  • Greater reach to customers regardless of geographic location, as all one would theoretically need to participate is an internet-connected mobile device
  • Less vulnerability to outside breaches due to decentralized security protocols
  • Greater autonomy to customize specific blockchain protocols democratically, which may allow dynamic shifting of interest rates for lending cryptocurrency as one possible benefit

Trustworthiness is a key benefit of DeFi, as agreements are solidified by smart contracts which manage the exchange of coins. Rather than simply having faith that a bank will come up with your assets (which they’ve lent out in the meantime) when you request them, smart contracts provide guarantees that your coins will be delivered when predefined conditions are met.

Keep in mind that these are ideals of decentralized finance, and time will tell the extent to which real-world DeFi products live up to these gold standards.

What’s the State of DeFi Today?

As of now, decentralized finance is virtually synonymous with the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, known for its customizability and user-friendly interface. DeFi Pulse notes how existing, Ethereum-based products in the DeFi space offer:

  • Lending and borrowing of cryptocurrency
  • Decentralized exchanges for purchasing cryptocurrency
  • The ability to bet on fluctuations in the value of assets by purchasing synthetic derivatives
  • Peer-to-peer payment services
  • Tokenized asset management

You can view an extensive list of DeFi products, including industry lending leaders such as Aave, Maker, and Compound here.

It is fair to state that decentralized finance mirrors the slate of non-decentralized financial products, sans the middle man (traditional financial institutions). Another difference between DeFi and more traditional financial products is the relative youth of the decentralized finance sector, which continues to evolve at a rapid clip.

How Do Regulators View DeFi?

There seems to be a looming spectre that regulators will come for DeFi products, sooner or later. Just as the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) eventually cracked down on ICOs in the name of curbing digital fraud, some have gone so far as to state that “regulators are circling” the DeFi sector.

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As with any regulatory matter, speculation and opacity will rule until regulators—the SEC or otherwise—make an overt move. Calls for self-regulation as a means of warding off outside regulation may, if history is any indicator, range from naive to overly optimistic.

The perception that those who create DeFi products are not spawning truly decentralized products, but are rather in it for their own personal gain, is surely not helping the case of those who hope to rebuff outside regulation.

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