The mystery of who created the digital currency Bitcoin might finally have been solved, bringing an end to years of speculation.
Australian businessman Craig Wright has claimed to be the person behind “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the mysterious identity that created much of the technology behind the online cash system. Satoshi Nakamoto’s work in 2008 and 2009 was key to creating the system, but he has always remained anonymous and his work has since stopped.
If Mr Wright’s claim is correct, it will bring to an end years of speculation about the person behind one of the most famous names in internet history.
Mr Wright showed “technical proof” of his identity to the BBC, The Economist and GQ. The publications were shown digitally signed messages sent in the early days of the technology that are linked to Bitcoins that are known to have been owned by Satoshi Nakamoto.
But despite planning to release information that would allow others to verify that he is behind Satoshi Nakamoto, Mr Wright hasn’t made any of that evidence public yet. Though the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto has always been a secret, it is thought that there are relatively simple ways that the person behind it would be able to prove that connection.
People involved in Bitcoin have said that they were convinced by the evidence that Mr Wright presented.
"During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical," Jon Matins, one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, wrote in a blog post about his relationship with Satoshi Nakamoto. "It is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories."
Mr Wright became one of the prime candidates for being Bitcoin’s inventor after emails from him were leaked late last year. At that time, Wired wrote that he had “either invented bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did”, and many were unconvinced by the reports.
Those reports forced Mr Wright to admit that he is the creator of the currency, he appeared to suggest to the BBC.
"I have not done this because it is what I wanted,” he said. “It's not because of my choice.”
He said that he didn’t intend to become the public face of Bitcoin, and that he would have preferred to stay anonymous.
Mr Wright was the subject of investigations after the release of the emails in December last year. He told the BBC that he was still cooperating with the Australian Tax Office.
If Mr Wright truly is Satoshi Nakamoto, he could have a huge net worth. The person behind the identity is thought to have about one million Bitcoins from the early days of the technology, worth about $450m (£30m) at current prices.
But he is far from the first person to have been named as being behind the technology. In 2014, for instance, a man called Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was named by Newsweek as being behind his online namesake – but that was later denied, and an account associated with the more famous Satoshi Nakamoto sent a very rare message denying that he was Dorian.
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