Roger Ver stars prominently in a new documentary by Dutch TV station VPRO. He opens the show by demonstrating to people in the Netherlands how a Bitcoin transaction works, using his home entertainment system and his smart phone.
Someone watching the show on the first broadcast would have had the opportunity to claim 100 Euros in Bitcoin as a result of Ver’s demonstration. Ver is identified in the film as a “Bitcoin evangelist,” and for most purposes, that has been his largest role in Bitcoin. However, the man has also backed a number of Bitcoin companies. He says in the video that he made his first purchase for over 20,000 Bitcoin when they were worth around $1 a piece. That initial purchase is now worth more than $6 million. He also says that he continued to invest in Bitcoin at this early stage.
However, there are some who feel that Ver is not the best face for Bitcoin. He vouched for Mt. Gox during its worst turmoil and turned out to be wrong, for one thing, and then there is the looming issue of his checkered history with the US Government. After getting in trouble for essentially selling firecrackers on eBay many years ago, the entrepreneur eventually renounced his citizenship and currently lives in Japan.
Ver tells the audience, regarding Bitcoin adoption:
Thinking it’s too late to get involved with Bitcoin is like thinking it’s too late to get involved with the Internet, or to get involved with using a cell phone. It’s not too late to get involved in Bitcoin. Bitcoin is going to make your life easier in so many ways and the price of Bitcoin is only like $200 right now. If Bitcoin gets really popular all over the world, the price is going to have to be at least tens of thousands of dollars per Bitcoin if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per Bitcoin.
Some would prefer a less controversial face, like Andreas Antonopolous, the frequent speaker and author of the O’Reilly book on the subject, to be considered the Bitcoin Jesus. Later in the film, Ver gives even more bitcoins away at a presentation. But the savior Roger Ver is not the only figure who is highlighted in the video.
Marshall Long, an early miner, was also covered. He says it took him about 3 weeks to figure out how mining worked and also gave an anecdote about his wife made him move his mining operation out of the house, which started his business, FinalHash.
Financial Times writer Izabella Kaminska ways in, sporting a Bloomberg terminal, discussing a “price over politics” view of Bitcoin that can be less popular in some parts of the community. She also says that she believes a stable price is best for Bitcoin, in that it makes adoption more approachable for many. However, it should be noted that wild volatility attracts investors more than stable prices ever will.
What I think people have projected on his paper as saying is this world where we are all 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 money is structured, if I decide to horde my dollars then I’m usually hording them in an institution that is using them as a means of capital and they will be lending them out. So that money, even though I am saving, is going into an investment somewhere else. […] But in Bitcoin, there isn’t that opportunity. So a horded Bitcoin is a horded Bitcoin. It’s totally idle. It has no interest, it has no yield. It is simply sitting there and yet the person who is holding onto it thinks they have a right to future income flow, as if they have been investing.
She ended her segment with a note on how the Bitcoin economy is “unequal.” Then Brett Scott, author of Hacking the Future of Money, a book about financial regulatory reform, came on to talk about the same property of Bitcoin. He, however, tempered his statements with acknowledgement that Bitcoin acts as an important alternative to traditional banking. He said there would be “massive inequality” issues in an economy entirely backed by Bitcoin, but that there are also huge problems with banking as we know it today.
There was also the inevitable part of the documentary, where they talked to someone who is accepting Bitcoin in commerce. They covered parts of Arnhem, Netherlands, which has a “Bitcoin Boulevard” section for Bitcoin tourists.
In all, the film was well-rounded, having its share of critics and proponents.
Featured image from Shutterstock.