framegrab made available by the BBC on Monday May 2, 2016
shows creator of the Bitcoin, Craig Wright speaking in
London. Australian Craig Wright, long rumored to be
associated with the digital currency Bitcoin, has publicly
identified himself as its creator, a claim that would end
one of the biggest mysteries in the tech world. BBC News
said Monday that Craig Wright told the media outlet he is
the man previously known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
LOS ANGELES — The mystery creator
of the digital currency bitcoin has finally stepped forward. Or
Australian inventor Craig Steven
Monday that he is "Satoshi Nakamoto," the elusive,
pseudonymous bitcoin founder.
In interviews with the Economist,
BBC, GQ and a few bitcoin insiders, bolstered by a technical
demonstration intended to prove that he and Nakamoto are one and
the same, Wright tried to lay to rest one of the biggest mysteries
in the tech world.
But Wright, who first emerged as a
leading Nakamoto contender last
December , may not have closed the case.
While some bitcoin experts accept
his demonstration as evidence that Wright is indeed Nakamoto,
others argue that his supposed proof — a series of complex
mathematical operations listed in a blog
post — doesn't prove anything.
Bitcoin allows people a way to make
payments without using banks or national currencies such as the
dollar or the euro. Because bitcoin transactions are unregulated
and anonymous, the currency has proved popular among libertarians,
tech enthusiasts, speculators and criminals. Nakamoto, who founded
the currency in 2009, dropped out of sight in 2010, but bitcoin
has mostly chugged along without him.
Knowing who actually founded
bitcoin wouldn't have any immediate effect on the digital
But the founder might have standing
to weigh in on a bitter technical dispute that threatens to hamper
bitcoin's growth. And the real Nakamoto would be rich and able to
disrupt bitcoin just by selling chunks of his holdings. Nakamoto
possesses around 1 million bitcoins worth some $440 million; those
coins have never been touched.
Wright's announcement is the latest
twist in the long search for the real Nakamoto, a pursuit that's
become a cottage industry for journalists and online sleuths.
In 2011, The New Yorker focused
speculation on cryptography researcher Michael Clear, who denied
it. Newsweek fingered Japanese-American engineer Dorian Satoshi
Nakamoto more than a year ago, though this Nakamoto quickly
insisted in an AP
interview that it was a clumsy case of mistaken identity.
So is Wright actually Nakamoto?
Gavin Andresen, an early bitcoin
developer who had extensive dealings with Nakamoto before he
vanished, says yes. Andresen said he met with Wright in London and
was "convinced beyond a reasonable doubt" that Wright is
the bitcoin founder. Andresen said Wright demonstrated that he
holds the key associated with some of the earliest bitcoins
Others are dubious, largely because
Wright's public "proof" of his identify was totally
different — and, to them, far less convincing — than his
private demonstration to Andresen.
"To me, he proved absolutely
nothing," said Emin Gun Sirer, a computer science professor
at Cornell University. Sirer and others said Wright's blog post
mainly amounts to a little sleight of hand using publicly
"He is just giving you
cut-and-pasted pieces from old Satoshi-signed messages,"
Jerry Brito, executive director of
the Washington-based cryptocurrency think tank Coin Center,
questioned why Wright provided the supposed proof only in private
exchanges with Andresen and a few others.
"What I'm saying does not
prove that he is not Satoshi," Brito added. "I'm just
saying the evidence he's presented is not conclusive at all."
Wright claims he has come forward
now because media speculation about his involvement with bitcoin
has violated the privacy of his staff. He told the Economist that
he wanted to "set the record straight," and in the BBC
report he said that he isn't seeking fame or money and just wants
to be left alone.
Those might not be the only
reasons. Wright is being investigated by Australian tax
authorities and might need money. Going public might make it
easier for him to cash in Nakamoto's bitcoins.