Australian Craig Wright Identifies Self as Bitcoin Creator

Craig Steven Wright
Craig Steven Wright.
Photographer: Kristina Uffe via Milk Publicity
  • Wright provides technical evidence he is Satoshi Nakamoto
  • Prominent members of Bitcoin community confirm claim, BBC says

Craig Steven Wright, an Australian entrepreneur, identified himself as the creator of bitcoin almost five months after he was outed in media reports as the man behind the virtual currency.

Wright said in a blog post and interviews with three media organizations that he developed the original bitcoin software under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim that’s been disputed by others. Wright provided technical evidence, including the original encryption keys, that have been confirmed by prominent members of the bitcoin community, the BBC reported.

Craig Steven Wright.
Craig Steven Wright.
Photographer: Kristina Uffe via Milk Publicity

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 posted to the BBC’s verified Twitter account. “I don’t want money, I don’t want fame, I don’t want adoration. I just want to be left alone.”

Skeptical Observers

Before Monday, Wright had stayed silent on the December reports, which cited e-mails, deleted blog posts and documents. He also revealed himself as bitcoin’s creator to the Economist and GQ magazines, the BBC said.

The evidence Wright provided didn’t completely dispel all doubts about his claim to be Nakamoto, according to the Economist. The magazine said 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 Inc., said the proof 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 Underwood.

Yuzo Kano, who runs a bitcoin exchange in Tokyo, is also skeptical of Wright’s claims.

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

Moving Mainstream

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 Inc.

Advocates have promoted bitcoin as a global, decentralized currency for the Internet age, and venture capital investments in companies affiliated with the technology topped $1 billion last year. Yet the instrument has proven volatile, its role in money laundering and other illegal activity is a constant source of questions, and the price fluctuates with each regulatory clampdown or criminal investigation.

New bitcoins are generated all the time, when operators of number-crunching computers called miners solve complex equations and record every transaction. The number of bitcoins that can be generated, however, is limited by design in the digital currency’s underlying software, and the built-in scarcity mechanism means ever more powerful computers are needed to mine the currency.

Computing Background

When Wright was first identified, he was living in a modest home on a quiet tree-lined street in the suburb of Gordon, about 13 kilometers 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 Ltd. which has researched bitcoin, proposed a bank for the currency, and offers wallet and exchange services.

Wired’s evidence for naming Wright as the currency’s creator included 2008 blog posts discussing bitcoin, along with e-mails, transcripts and accounting forms that corroborate the link. The tech magazine also cited a 2014 administrator’s report into Hotwire Preemptive Intelligence Pty., which indicated the e-payment software firm was backed by A$30 million ($23 million) of bitcoin owned by its managing director Wright.

The New York Times and New Yorker magazine have both tried to find the person behind the pseudonym. In a 2014 cover story, Newsweek identified the real Satoshi Nakamoto as a California physicist, who denied the report.

(An earlier version of this story corrected the year of the Newsweek cover story)

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