Following years of mystery, we may finally have some insight into the man who came up with the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin
According to a report this morning from the BBC, Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has stepped forward taking credit for the creation of Bitcoin back in 2008 under the nom de guerre Satoshi Nakamoto.
In his interview with the BBC, Wright is said to have shown reporters technical proof that he is Nakamoto by accessing Bitcoins that are known to be in possession by the system’s creator.
Backing up his claim, the BBC article cites confirmation from the project’s core development team and other leading figures in the community.
Wright appears to be unhappy about coming forward, making protestations to the camera during his interview that all he wants is to work and be left alone. He repeats a number of times, perhaps unconvincingly, that he does not want money or fame, going on to list a number of awards including the Nobel that he would refuse if nominated.
Following reports last year by leading tech sites Wired and Gizmodo that Wright could be the heads on the coin, he fell under significant auditing from the Australian Tax Office in what the government body claims is an unrelated investigation.
Working in a gray area
While many in the tech and crypto crowd would probably be more than happy to take credit for launching the Bitcoin movement, it is not without its risks and frustrations. Along with it being an easily transferable currency and having played a big role in helping to advance the ledger technology in the public discourse, Bitcoin has had its darker sides as well.
Bitcoin is often used by trouble makers on the internet to pay for illicit goods and services, like hacking, scams, piracy, and in the case of the Silk Road, drugs and murder for hire. This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of legitimate uses for Bitcoin and its Blockchain technology, but government regulators and law enforcement have found themselves in a bind without any good solutions for how to manage the new horizon of digital payments, leading to mostly to confusion and frustration.
So while no explicit threat has been made against the creator of Bitcoin, there is reasonable expectation that Wright could face some unwanted scrutiny from authorities and / or others.
Facing a skeptical community
For the time being, despite the assurances from the BBC and others that Wright is in fact Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin community appears to remain skeptical until proven otherwise.
In a statement issued this morning, the chairman of the Israeli Bitcoin Association Manny Rosenfeld has said that, “The revelation of Dr. Craig Wright as the person behind the name Satoshi Nakamoto is truly an exciting moment for all those involved in the amazing financial revolution of Bitcoin and digital currency. However, it is important to note that proving his identity can be done in an easy and public way, and for now, we have not yet seen this kind of proof presented in a transparent way. Basically, we are relying on reports from the media that they were shown the proof. So as long as it is not shown in a public manner and is thoroughly investigated by developers in the community, we will be unable to declare that [his claims] are legitimate.”
It is worth noting that in the past there has been some doubt as to whether Wright is in fact the source of Bitcoin. A report in Wired from December questioned the theory that he was behind it, citing discrepancies, including his academic record, the supercomputers in his possession, and holes in his blog posts which the online tech magazine say were backdated in a way that would insinuate that he may have been trying to lead investigators on a wild goose chase.
Even as the news broke, commentators on social media expressed their doubts about Wright, based heavily on their suspicions regarding his signature on a blog post, supposedly coming from Nakamoto.
Does it really matter if Craig Wright created Bitcoin?
At the time of writing, the USD/Bitcoin exchange rate stood at $454 to 1. According to Blockchain.info, there are roughly 15.5 million Bitcoins in existence, all together worth some $7.037 billion. With those kinds of numbers, it demands the public’s attention, even if most of us are hesitant about wading in at this time.
Love him, hate him, or still have no idea what the fuss is about Bitcoin, we may finally have a real face to put on the digital currency revolution. Or not. Until we see more proof that is accepted by the community, I personally will remain skeptical.
That said, while he may be its creator, the future of Bitcoin, Blockchain, and other associated technologies are out of his hands, and it doesn’t really matter where it came from. What matters is what we do with it, and where it goes from here.
Featured Image: screenshot from CCTV via YouTube