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Nathaniel Popper: “Borders End Up Mattering A Great Deal” In Bitcoin

Last Updated May 22, 2023 4:29 AM
Justin OConnell
Last Updated May 22, 2023 4:29 AM

Incredible mining facilities in China, and cinematic footage of the workers there. Breathtaking scenes from inside the contentious Russian crypto-currency community, where Ethereum developer Vitalik Buterin addresses a packed house.  

With Nathaniel Popper as narrator, these are just a few of the glimpses TechCrunch offers in a new documentary series  into Bitcoin around the world. In his experience, Mr. Popper’s learned that borders matter in Bitcoin.


“Bitcoin is supposed to be this global thing,” Mr Popper tells CCN.com. “As it expands globally, it takes a different shape in each place where it takes roots. It looks different in China, than it does in Venezuela, than it does in the US.”


He adds: “Although it’s meant to be this borderless thing, borders end up mattering a great deal.”

Borders play a big role in China, in particularly. “The national economy of China has ended up shaping how the technology has developed there,” he said. Initially, the public interest in Bitcoin there was much more sort of speculative trading interest.

“In China, Bitcoin originally was about trading on the value of bitcoin,” Mr Popper said. “That’s going back to 2013, 2014, then moving forward to today. The local economy there is very different. This resulted in computing power being localized in China. On top of that, you have the Great Firewall, which makes it harder for computer miners within China to communicate with miners outside China. What’s supposed to be a global market functions by local dynamics in a place like China.” The nation of more than a billion doesn’t have the same political dynamics that exist in the US, where bitcoin is a more political phenomenon.

“Getting to travel around the world brought to light for me how it’s taken on this different shape and appearance in different places,” Mr. Popper shared.

Vitalik Buterin in an episode of the web series.

This series delves into how Bitcoin has changed finance. Filmed on five continents, Mr. Popper tells the story of Bitcoin from its early utopian visions to its commercial adoptions by governments and big banks, and the global miners upon which the integrity of the network lies.

Episode 1 goes over the basics of blockchain technology and how it might be used. Episode 2 takes a look at miners and their role in the Bitcoin system. Episode 3 goes into Bitcoin’s identity, and how it must choose how it expresses itself. Episode 4 looks at the rise of the blockchain. And Episode 5 looks at Ethereum, before the series final episode explores the difference between open and closed blockchains.

The entire series can be found here .

Image from YouTube/TechCrunch.