This week, “60 Minutes” reports on the rise and fall of bitcoin over the past decade. Andy Court, the producer of the story, talked with 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio about how difficult it was to explain bitcoin and the mystery behind the cryptocurrency’s creator. Below is a transcript.
ANDERSON COOPER: What is a cryptocurrency?
NEHA NARULA: A cryptocurrency is a — let’s see. How do I– how do I do this?
ANDERSON COOPER: Because if you can’t describe it (LAUGH)–
NEHA NARULA: I know, I’m trying–
ANDERSON COOPER: –I’m sunk.
ANN SILVIO: Andy, you and Anderson Cooper reported on the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Reporting this story, as I understand it, was sort of an odyssey. Was it a difficult topic to grasp?
ANDY COURT: Yeah. Almost everyone knows the word. And it’s amazing it’s kind of become part of our lexicon now. But we still– most of us don’t really know what it is.
ANN SILVIO: Anderson’s trying to figure out what it is (LAUGHTER) in your interviews. He’s sort of–
ANDY COURT: One of the joys was kind of watching Anderson (LAUGH) try to wrap his mind around this thing.
ANDERSON COOPER: There’s no actual coin.
NEHA NARULA: That is true. That is something that trips people up–
ANDERSON COOPER: I know this is a dumb question, but I can’t–
NEHA NARULA: No, no.
ANDERSON COOPER: –get past that.
NEHA NARULA: It took me a little while too.
ANDERSON COOPER: I’m so antiquated, I can’t imagine things that do not have a physical component.
MARCUS STRENG: It’s really abstract for a lot of people–
ANDERSON COOPER: Don’t patronize me. (LAUGHTER)
ANN SILVIO: You spoke with an MIT professor, Neha Narula. Did she help clear some things up for you–
ANDY COURT: Yeah, I mean, I think Neha is very good at ex– bringin’ things back to earth.
ANDERSON COOPER: So can you buy– you can buy– portions of a Bitcoin?
NEHA NARULA: Oh yeah. You can buy a v– you can buy a very small amount of a Bitcoin, yes.
ANDERSON COOPER: You don’t have–
NEHA NARULA: One ten-millionth of a Bitcoin. It’s called a Satoshi.
ANDERSON COOPER: Named after the person who d–
NEHA NARULA: Named after the creator.
ANDERSON COOPER: So who made Bitcoin?
ANDY COURT: When you ask about the creator, who created this, who invented this, they must be a real genius, everyone’s like, we have no idea.
ANN SILVIO: Satoshi Nakamoto, right–
ANDY COURT: Satoshi Nakamoto.
ANN SILVIO: Satoshi Nakamoto is a fake name for somebody?
ANDY COURT: It’s the name that appears on the paper.
ANN SILVIO: Were you able to learn anything more about who Satoshi Nakamoto is?
ANDY COURT: No. (LAUGHTER)
ANN SILVIO: Did you try?
ANDY COURT: A little. But really, I mean, it– it’s just mission impossible.
NEHA NARULA: He’s a myth. I mean, he– he doesn’t– no one knows who he is. Some people have claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. But we have not seen any definitive proof.
ANDY COURT: People communicated by email with Satoshi. Laszlo Hanyecz, one of the people in our story, communicates– has told us he communicated by email with Satoshi.
LASZLO HANYECZ: Yes, I did. I corresponded with– with the inventor.
ANDERSON COOPER: Do you know who he or it is?
LASZLO HANYECZ: I do not.
ANDERSON COOPER: What did you talk about?
LASZLO HANYECZ: Just– just talked shop, really. You know, “Hey, I — you know, I can’t get this code to work.”
ANDY COURT: So, there was a period when people were talking to Satoshi. They were working out the technical problems. They were revising the code.
ANN SILVIO: Has Satoshi been communicating with anyone lately?
ANDY COURT: No. There was a point where Satoshi just stopped. Just faded away.
ANN SILVIO: I understand Satoshi is sitting on a small fortune that has not been redeemed–
ANDY COURT: Right. Beyond the mystery of who it– this person actually is, Satoshi Nakamoto, is the question of why not touch any of this money.
LASZLO HANYECZ: Well, I mean people are keeping track of his Bitcoins. You know, because they know that he mined all the early blocks. And– he hasn’t spent them.
ANDERSON COOPER: Really?
LASZLO HANYECZ: Yeah. They’re– they’re still there. None of them have been touched. So– you know, some people think he’s dead. Some people think he’s just laying low. But because it’s– it’s not owned or controlled by anyone– it’s– it truly belongs to the internet. It belongs to– to everyone. And it’s almost like Satoshi came and gave us Bitcoin as a present and just kinda left.