Netflix’s “Explained,” a collection of short documentaries that go into such topics as dieting, monogamy, and designer DNA, recently tackled the world of cryptocurrency in it’s fifth episode of Season One. Appropriately narrated by “Mr. Robot’s” Christian Slater, “Explained” breaks down the crypto world in an easily digestible way, so even the most computer illiterate among us can understand.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. For all those who have tried to explain Bitcoin to family and friends in vain, this video might finally help wedge the gap. It doesn’t go too far into technological detail, and at only 15 minutes in length, it isn’t a huge commitment. It also avoids diving into speculation or how high prices might go. It simply reviews the history of the crypto world, and brilliantly discusses its ancestry.
Bitcoin can trace its origins back to the “Diners Club” card, and the subsequent credit card revelation of the 1970’s. As the years have gone by, having cash on you has become less and less crucial. This has evolved further into the digital cash we have today in the crypto space, cash that is housed in a decentralized ledger and not printed by governments. The producers walk us through how the Bitcoin phenomenon was in part spawned by the housing crisis of 2008, and the loss of faith in big banks by the public. This led to the creation of Bitcoin – the first cryptocurrency to utilize blockchain technology – and a revolution that believes money shouldn’t be owned by single entity (a government) but by a shared network in a trustless system.
A visually appealing animation walks us through what exactly the blockchain is, how it works, and what advantages and disadvantages it has over the current system. If you’re ever pressed to explain to someone what blockchain is and its potential benefits, this might be a useful tool. It’s the ELI5 (Explain Like I’m Five) for cryptocurrency we’ve all been waiting for.
One of the more interesting segments comes toward the end, when it discusses how many Bitcoins – and how many millions of dollars – have been lost simply to people forgetting their passwords. There lies one of the biggest risks of owning cryptocurrency, and holding your own private keys. If you are holding Bitcoin or other alts – whether in a retirement account or not – heed these warnings and take measures to ensure you always have access to your coins. Despite this risk, we highly advise you holding your own private keys, and not keeping your coins on an exchange, where they are more vulnerable to hacks, theft, and decisions made by the exchange itself.
With great pacing and interviews from blockchain engineers and crypto creators (even if one is the inventor of Dogecoin), the episode manages to provide quite a bit of information in 15 minutes without being overwhelming. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the opportunity to go into the leading alt coins of today – such as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and EOS – but perhaps that is to its benefit, as getting into each and the technological advances they seek would have bogged the episode down.
Whether you’re a crypto disciple or skeptic – and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re a disciple – this documentary doesn’t take a side, which is actually refreshing. We’re constantly hit over the head with the “it’s a bubble” or “it’s the future” arguments, it’s nice to see a show take an unbiased view.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this short doc, and would specifically recommend to those who have little to no crypto knowledge. Those at the forefront might find it a bit rudimentary, but it still provides a nice refresher of the progress that has been made.
If you have any questions, our experts our available at (800) 395-5200 to help with anything you may need when it comes to investing your IRA or 401(k) into cryptocurrencies.