Did the real 'Satoshi Nakamoto' just stand up?
Australian businessman Craig Wright, who was first identified as the potential founder of Bitcoin last year, goes on the record. But not everyone is satisfied.
An Australian tech entrepreneur has reluctantly identified himself as the creator of the online cryptocurrency Bitcoin, an attempt to end the speculation and mystery surrounding the identity of its likely pseudonymic founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
In an interview with the BBC, Craig Wright gave technical proof to back his claims by using coins traceable to the creator of Bitcoin. Core members of the Bitcoin community have since backed his statements.
"I was the main part of it, but other people helped me," Mr. Wright, who also revealed his identity to The Economist and GQ, told the BBC.
Various media organizations and journalists have conducted long investigations in hopes of discovering the founder the cryptocurrency since the first Bitcoin transaction took place in 2009.
In 2014, Newsweek's Leigh McGrath Goodman had a piece published on the cover of the magazine that reported to have identified the real Satoshi Nakamoto. Ms. Goodman scoured a database of naturalized US citizens with the name and identified Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto of Temple City, Calif., as the founder. Mr. Nakamoto vigorously denied the claim.
Then late last year, parallel investigations by Gizmodo and Wired first identified Wright as the likely founder of Bitcoin. Subsequent Australian federal police raids on Wright's home which lent credence to the theory but the raids were later confirmed to have been about separate tax issues and unrelated to Bitcoin.
Now Wright has come forward promising to release information that would allow the cryptographical verification that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.
Soon after Wright went public, Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation agreed with his claims via a blog post.
"I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin," he wrote.
Jon Matonis, one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, said he had sufficient proof of Wright's identity.
"During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical," Mr. Matonis said. "It is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories."
However, others are not yet convinced of Wright's claims.
The Economist said Wright had been unwilling to answer some of its questions and that further proof was required.
"Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain," The Economist reported. "Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin."
In a blog post Monday, Wright posted technical details of the process by which he created the currency, including examples of code. He also thanked his staff whose privacy he vehemently defended in the BBC interview.
"This incredible community's passion and intellect and perseverance has taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it," he wrote in a blog post. "You have given the world a great gift. Thank you."
Although Bitcoin has been referred to as a new currency, it's more complicated than that, as the BBC explains:
To process Bitcoin transactions, a procedure called "mining" must take place, which involves a computer solving a difficult mathematical problem with a 64-digit solution. For each problem solved, one block of Bitcoins is processed. In addition the miner is rewarded with new Bitcoins.
This provides an incentive for people to provide computer processing power to solve the problems. To compensate for the growing power of computer chips, the difficulty of the puzzles is adjusted to ensure a steady stream of new Bitcoins are produced each day.
In December 2013, hopes that it would become a mainstream currency buoyed it's price to more than $1,000 per coin giving it a market capitalization of $13 billion. The price has backed off since then, with total value estimated at around $7 billion.
It dropped 3 percent on news of Wright's claims to around $440 from $454.89.
Wright told The Economist he would exchange his Bitcoin in small chunks to avoid sinking the price.
"If Mr Wright is in possession of Satoshi's original nearly one million bitcoins, he will be for sure closely watched by investors trying to guess his future moves," Tomas Forgac, who runs bitcoin startup Coin of Sale, told Reuters.
In his Monday blog post, Wright did not make a clear-cut admission that he was Nakamoto.
"Satoshi is dead," he wrote. "But this is only the beginning."
This report contains material from Reuters.