Australian Craig Steven Wright claims to be bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto

By @chelean on
A Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, May 27, 2015. Reuters/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Satoshi Nakamoto is Australian entrepreneur Craig Steven Wright, he has claimed. Wright has apparently proven that he is the inventor of bitcoin, the digital currency that has gained significant market value in the short time since it was launched.

When bitcoin was introduced in 2009, it was claimed that a certain Japanese inventor was behind it. Nakamoto, as it turned out, was just a pseudonym for the unknown inventor. There has been speculations as to his real identity, with Wright’s name popping up a few months prior.

And now Wright is claiming that he is indeed the creator of bitcoin. He told his identity to three media organisations: the BBC, GQ magazine and the Economist. Wright digitally signed messages for the three organisations using some of the earliest bitcoin cryptopgrahic keys, which are linked to the bitcoin blocks “mined” by Nakamoto.

“These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction,” Wright told the BBC during his demonstration, referring to the renowned cryptographer who was one of the engineers who helped turn Wright’s ideas into the bitcoin protocol.

Wright is a 44-year-old computer scientist and businessman from North Ryde, Sydney, who apparently owns 1.1 million bitcoin blockchain. In December, Wired has obtained the “strongest evidence” yet of Nakamoto’s real identity, pointing to Wright, who maintained silence then. The Australian Federal Police searched his home upon the release of the report in December.

Read: Bitcoin founder could be an Australian, says report

So why speak now? Wright said it’s not about publicity but setting the record straight.

“People are assuming [the misinformation against me] is true because I’m not saying anything,” he told the Economist. “This impacts not just me and my work, but my family, my staff and everything else.”

And by outing himself, he hoped to “dispel any negative myths and fears about bitcoin and the blockchain,” he wrote.

As for his pseudonym, Wright explained that he got “Nakamoto” from a 17th century Japanese philosopher and merchant named Tominaga Nakamoto. He remained mum on why he chose “Satoshi,” though.

Soon after Wright came out as Nakamoto, Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen backed him up.

“I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin,” Andresen wrote in a blog post. “I was flown to London to meet Dr Wright a couple of weeks ago, after an initial email conversation convinced me that there was a very good chance he was the same person I’d communicated with in 2010 and early 2011. After spending time with him, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt: Craig Wright is Satoshi.”

But not all share his views. Some bitcoin loyalists doubt Wright’s claim, saying Wright’s efforts to convince the publications that he is indeed Nakamoto were not just convincing. This could mean the hunt for Nakamoto’s real identity is still on. No matter how strong an evidence Wright presents, there will be those who will still not believe him.

The identity of the bitcoin creator isn’t important, though, according to Adam Draper, a managing director of Boost VC, which has backed bitcoin startups.

“Actually, it shows the true strength of bitcoin that the creator of it has no impact on the market unless he sells all his bitcoin at once,” he was quoted by Mashable as saying.

Bitcoin is a digital currency created and held electronically using corresponding private keys. In 2013, its value soared to more than US$1,100 (AU$1,400). On Monday, however, it was worth around US$445 (AU$580).