Business Technology

Saturday 24 March 2018

Doubt still lingers over the true identity of Bitcoin's creator

Yuji Nakamura

Craig Steven Wright, an Australian entrepreneur, has confirmed that he is the creator of the Bitcoin - almost five months after he was outed in media reports as the man behind the virtual currency.

Mr Wright said in a blog post and interviews with three media organisations that he developed the original Bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim that has been disputed by others.

Mr Wright provided technical evidence, including the original encryption keys, that have been confirmed by prominent members of the Bitcoin community.

Mr Wright was named as the creator of Bitcoin by both 'Wired' and 'Gizmodo' in December, which he said caused unwanted attention on his work and family. A white paper on the virtual currency was released under the name of Nakamoto in 2008 detailing the concept of peer-to-peer electronic cash before software was rolled out in early 2009. More than one other person has previously been identified as the original creator.

"Some people will believe, some people won't and to tell you the truth I don't really care," he said in a video clip. "I don't want money, I don't want fame, I don't want adoration. I just want to be left alone."

Mr Wright had previously stayed silent on the December reports, which cited emails, deleted blog posts and documents. He has also revealed himself as Bitcoin's creator to the 'Economist' and 'GQ' magazines.

The evidence Mr Wright provided didn't completely dispel all doubts about his claim to be Nakamoto, according to the 'Economist'.

The magazine said Mr Wright did not definitively show he had control over an original stash of Bitcoin suspected to be owned by Nakamoto. He also had a potential personal interest in influencing debate within the Bitcoin community, and claiming he is Nakamoto would strengthen his argument, the magazine said.

Jonathan Underwood, a technical adviser to Bitcoin startup Bitbank, said the proof Mr Wright posted on his blog was a signature from an old transaction and not evidence that the Australian actually controls Nakamoto's private Bitcoin keys.

"I didn't believe Craig was Satoshi when it was news last December, and I still don't believe it," said Mr Underwood.

Yuzo Kano, who runs a Bitcoin exchange in Tokyo, is also sceptical of MrWright's claims.

"The key he posted on his blog is actually publicly available information," said Mr Kano, who quit Goldman Sachs to open BitFlyer in 2014. "This doesn't prove at all that he holds the private keys."

Bitcoin's libertarian roots, with no central issuing authority and a public ledger to verify transactions, has become more mainstream with its adoption by merchants around the world.

Its underlying technology has also drawn interest from banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

When Mr Wright was first identified, he was living in a modest home on a quiet tree-lined street in the suburb of Gordon, about 13km from Sydney's central business district.

His then social-media profile suggested a man with an enthusiasm for virtual currency and computing.

In addition to numerous college degrees and a stint as a chef, his now-deleted LinkedIn profile listed him as the chief executive officer of DeMorgan, which has researched Bitcoin, proposed a bank for the currency, and offers wallet and exchange services (Bloomberg).

Irish Independent

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