The 2020 documentary CRYPTOPIA, a feature film at the Cayman Documentary Film Festival on March 19-20, speaks to the big minds and egos of the crypto and blockchain world.
It looks at how the industry has progressed from building an alternative, decentralized currency system using Bitcoin to implementing a decentralized web and promising a new form of the Internet with “Web 3.0.”
The cayman compass Talk to director Torsten Hoffman about the industry.
People often ask and touch on CRYPTOPIA. Tell us why crypto isn’t a scam?
In my two films on the subject, I try to give historical examples that show how quick a reaction to almost any new technology is to reject it. Too many well-established players, with vested interests and large pockets, such as governments and banks, shape the narrative. Billions of consumers are fully satisfied with their existing infrastructure. The often misleading media coverage about the environmental damage caused by cryptocurrency mining, and certainly the many actual scams in the land of crypto, makes it an uphill battle. At CRYPTOPIA, we also ask the big brains and egos behind this industry some uncomfortable questions.
However, let me try to convince you that this is “something we should take seriously now” as a Wall Street Journal reporter told me in 2014.
Almost all financial institutions including major global banks now offer some crypto services to their high net worth clients. Retail customer offerings are the following. This is great after a decade of being ignored, ridiculed, and pressured against. Meanwhile, there are an estimated 200 million cryptocurrency owners around the world, mostly using new innovative services offered by startups. I recently visited the offices of a company that has 80 million users transacting over a trillion dollars in cryptocurrency in the past 10 years.
Ask citizens of hyperinflationary countries about the usefulness of this invention, especially Bitcoin. The price is at all-time highs in Turkey, Venezuela or Argentina. Inflation may be closer than you think; Even in developed markets. This is the cost of printing trillions of paper dollars out of thin air and this is why the economics of contraction in the Bitcoin money supply are so powerful.
Ask the refugees in Ukraine who have been unable to access any of their wealth this month, or truck drivers in Canada who have been threatened with having their bank accounts frozen, or women in Afghanistan who are not even allowed to have a bank account as we explain in CRYPTOPIA. These people now have access to the global financial system thanks to cryptocurrencies, and can truly control their assets. But yes, you are right. This technology also allows fraudsters. That is why there are now stricter KYC regulations for the sector almost anywhere in the world.
CRYPTOPIA is following up on a 2015 documentary they produced, “Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It.” How has your view of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology changed during filmmaking and since then?
During the filming of the first movie, there was only Bitcoin. Since then, a whole industry has appeared, with thousands of companies, projects and “coins”. While I believe that decentralized finance will play a major role in revolutionizing the global financial system, and while I believe that there will be many groundbreaking Web3 projects that will emerge from this, I have also come to the conclusion that Bitcoin itself is very different from all other activities: be shatterproof.
There have been a lot of over-promises and deliverables regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain so far. At the moment, the industry appears to be in a bit of a slump. Where are we in the evolutionary cycle of these technologies from your point of view?
Yes correct. When Bitcoin isn’t at all-time highs, there’s this perception…but the +800% performance in 2 years isn’t bad in my books. In addition to the first nation-state [El Salvador] Its adoption as legal tender marks a huge advance that even early so-called extremists did not expect.
Yes, Ethereum has been crippled by scaling issues and promised network upgrades have been delayed (for years now) but there are thousands of projects being built in the background.
And yes, the latest buzz around “NFTs” has been a really crazy cycle. I think it made it very clear how these technologies are evolving. Some really innovative projects made some entrepreneurs, developers, and investors very wealthy and flocked a horde of new investors to low-quality, often worthless counterfeit NFTs. I don’t think anyone quite knows where this is going to take us, but I’m pretty sure the experts will be using cool words like “metaverse” and “web3” when they try to sell us the next thing.
What do you hope viewers will gain from watching the documentary?
The first movie was about understanding the history and concept of money and Bitcoin (it has 2.5 million views on YouTube now). CRYPTOPIA is an entertaining and informative crash course on the entire industry and all its key stories. It’s a good way for anyone to start a rabbit burrow.
“Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains, and the Future of the InternetTwice at the Cayman Documentary Film Festival this weekend, Saturday at 6:30 pm and Sunday at 4 pm.