Bitcoin – Digital Gold? The Hype about the cryptocurrency 2017 I Y-Kollektiv Englisch Version


Bitcoin – digital gold or a bubble waiting
to burst? It can’t be turned off – it works. The price has risen to new record highs. I think this is Bitcoins’ year There’s a gold-rush mentality. Everyone wants to make fast money. I think that Bitcoin will reach 25 or 30 thousand
dollars within two years. But what if the ECB says Bitcoin is illegal? Just after the Brexit decision in 2016, I
bought 1.48 bitcoins for 960 euros. Now, that one and a half Bitcoin is worth
more than 13-thousand euros. That’s quite a lot – and honestly I’m
not sure what to do with it. Should I wait for it to go up? Or should I sell and pocket the profit? No matter what bitcoin price I give, it’ll
have changed in a minute. The price is highly volatile. I’m in the Netherlands to meet Didi, who lives
on a camp site with his wife and three daughters. He sold his house, his cars – practically everything
he had – and put the money into Bitcoin. This is the living room and kitchen. The cat is always over there when there’s
a camera. I think she’s had media training. A year ago the family decided to travel the
world – and to give up their consumer lifestyle. We didn’t want the pressure anymore – we
just wanted to live. And not have to work to pay off the house. Or for luxury. Didi gave up his job – now he spends his
days trading various cryptocurrencies – and seems to be doing ok. My office is minimalistic – I don’t have
a chair. It’s a musical instrument and a chair at
the same time. What I do is basically buy and sell. Bitcoin was at around 7,000 dollars. When was that? At six this morning. And now it’s just 6,600 dollars. It’s fallen by 400 or 500 dollars. So now I buy, because I expect it to rise
again. I buy and then I sell again. But now I think it’ll keep slipping a bit. You do that every day? You look at the price and watch how it develops
over the course of each day? Yeah, that’s what I basically do. Not so much with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a little bit like gold used to be. Gold always has a value. I have a lot of bitcoins but I don’t sell
them very often. Because I think Bitcoin will reach 25 or 30
thousand dollars within two years. You really think so? Why? Just the way it is. The crucial thing in the world of Bitcoin
is that it’s a finite resource. The protocol sets the maximum amount at 21
million units. But bitcoins aren’t just there for the taking
– they have to be gradually mined, something which now mainly happens on gigantic computer
farms. Altogether there are 21 million bitcoins. Right now almost 17 million bitcoins are in circulation. If you look at the world as a whole, only
0.8 percent of people have started using Bitcoin. That’s nothing yet. If 10 percent of people worldwide started
using it, then Bitcoin will have to see a big rise in value, otherwise I can’t distribute
it among all the new people. That’s the calculation behind Bitcoin – that’s
why experts say it could be 100,000 dollars in three or four years. Living in just 55 square meters, while getting
rich from trading Bitcoin. I find Didi’s lifestyle hard to understand. Room 77, a bar in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district. Bitcoin owners meet here regularly. The vibe is good – this was the day the
bitcoin price first reached 7,000 euros. Room 77 was the first place in the world to
accept Bitcoin as payment. That decision was made by owner Jörg Platzer. I’ve been involved for decades in hacking
and cypherpunk. In that community there was always the vision
of developing digital cash. There’s really nothing that can go wrong
with it. It can’t be turned off. It works. What it’s about is creating a financial
system without banks. Basically it’s about financial self-empowerment. I have my money where no one can take it away
from me, no one can confiscate it – or inflate it away or slap it with negative interest. And I can send it wherever I want to. The technology behind Bitcoin is called blockchain. Shermin from the BlockchainHub gives me a
beginner’s guide to this internet technology. The protocol behind Bitcoin is called the
blockchain. It’s an operating system for new data structures
for the next-generation internet. The internet we have today is deeply flawed. We don’t own the data on it. When we send our data to a service – whether
it’s a bank, or Facebook or Twitter or whatever, we’re turning over the ownership and control
of our data to those companies, which then store it on their central computers. The system is based on the ‘client-server
principle’. Data are stored on a computer – let’s call
it ‘the server’ – and called up by another computer – called ‘the client’. What’s different about Bitcoin is that when
I send you money, every computer in the Bitcoin network – every computer that has downloaded
the Bitcoin protocol – has the same information about Bitcoin transactions. So when I send you money, a bank’s server
doesn’t have to validate that I have the money and that you are you – between two banks. Instead, the majority of the network says,
yes, this is correct. Then the transaction goes through and is carried
out automatically via a so-called smart contract. The way you describe it makes it sounds like
the currency everyone has been waiting for. And it sounds like a better way to transfer
money. So why is it still such a niche thing? It’s still a relatively young technology,
although Bitcoin has been around for ten years. There was internet in the nineteen sixties
– but it wasn’t until the nineties that it had grown into the mass market, so to speak. 2017 is the year of Bitcoin – it’s finally
arrived. Someone who has been into Bitcoin since its
early beginning is Dennis. He works on the stock exchange, but as a sideline
he sells gold and silver on the internet – and the only payment he accepts are cryptocurrencies
like Bitcoin. You don’t need much technical know-how to
use Bitcoin. You need to know how to use a mobile phone
– I think most of us do. And where to get Bitcoin for 50 euros – a
meet-up like this is useful. There are a few things you have to know. YOU’re the caretaker of your money. If you drop your cellphone in the toilet,
your money is gone. If you lose your private key, your money is
gone. On the other hand, no one decides what to
do with your money but you. Is it secure? What, your phone, or Bitcoin? Bitcoin. I mean, can I be hacked? In principle Bitcoin is secure. Whether your telephone or your computer is
secure is up to you. If I’m skillful enough to steal a hundred
euros from your wallet, you can’t say the euro is insecure – your wallet is insecure. Guests in Room 77 have been paying in Bitcoin
for years. My one and a half bitcoins have
been lying around digitally since I bought them. If I want to use them to pay, I have to transfer
some into a wallet-App. I’m at tech magazine t-3-n in Hanover to meet
the online editor-in-chief, Sébastien. For a while, staff here could opt to be paid
in bitcoins. Employees could exchange 44 euros of their
gross salary into bitcoins and the employer put another 44 euros on top. You could choose that. A few businesses and restaurants in
Hanover accept payment in bitcoins. We go to one for lunch. The bitcoin price is so volatile that a meal which costs
10 euros today, could cost 15 or 5 euros tomorrow. It’s an odd feeling. Is that the reason why people don’t like to
pay in Bitcoin at the moment? Definitely. I don’t do it much either. I think that Bitcoin has failed as a payment
currency because it fluctuates too much. I mean – you’re paying for my lunch in Bitcoin
– and that’s very kind of you. But I wouldn’t want to get death threats from
you in a year because you regret it. I’ll send you a screenshot. I’ll pay in bitcoin. ‘Your balance is insufficient.’ It says 30, and the bill is 27.
Or is there some huge fee? For our lunch bill, I had to pay a fee of
4 euros and 6 cents. Not so convincing. Are we in a bitcoin bubble? I can’t really answer that. There are a lot of different views on that. I could imagine it as an S-curve where bitcoin
goes down again and before really taking off. But I could also imagine it bursting. It’s kind of hard to assess because we don’t
know what regulatory action will be taken. Yes, it’s a decentralized and globally distributed technology – but suppose the ECB says Bitcoin is illegal! I don’t know how markets would respond. Obviously there are many people who stand behind it and who don’t care that much if Bitcoin is at 500 or 20-thousand euros. But there are also plenty of people who
quite clearly say, ‘I’m in this to make money – and if policymakers or the central bank
steps in, then that’s bad news and I’ll sell!’ What a huge issue: finance, cryptography,
politics – Bitcoin has it all. And me? I could sell Bitcoin worth 960 euros so that
I’ve recouped the purchase price. Or I could hang onto it all and watch where
it goes.

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