The Australian man who may have invented the protocol behind Bitcoin, previously uncovered by an investigation by Gizmodo and Wired, now says he has cryptographic proof that he was responsible for the creation of the digital currency.
A report by The Economist, run in concert with similar investigations by the BBC and GQ Magazine, makes a strong suggestion that Dr Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the otherwise-anonymous figure responsible for the Bitcoin protocol and some of the early software used to mine coins on the network.
In December, simultaneous Wired and Gizmodo investigations pointed to Wright, an IT administrator and entrepreneur, as one half of the two men responsible for the creation of Bitcoin. At the time, Wright went into hiding after his house was raided by police, but he has now published a blog post with what he says is cryptographic proof — and the instructions for any reader to verify that proof — that he is Nakamoto.
Referencing a Jean-Paul Sartre quote, Wright writes "if I sign Craig Wright, it is not the same as if I sign Craig Wright, Satoshi" before dedicating a thankyou to "those that have supported the bitcoin project from its inception", and then finishing the personal portion of his missive with a cryptic statement: "I have been engaged with an exceptional group and look forward to sharing our remarkable work when they are ready. Satoshi is dead. But this is only the beginning."
The BBC reports that the cryptographic proof referred to in the rest of Wright's blog post is evidence that Craig Wright possesses the same cryptographic keys as Satoshi Nakamoto, the psuedonymic individual that demonstrated the Bitcoin protocol to crypto expert and early Bitcoin innovator Hal Finney in 2009 — strong proof that Wright and Nakamoto are the same person or at least closely linked.
If he is indeed Nakamoto, Wright's bitcoin wealth is estimated by some at as much as $600 million, as he would be in possession of nearly a million Bitcoin that have remained untouched since the protocol's inception and early mining efforts. The exchange rate of bitcoin fluctuated in its early life, but has settled somewhat in recent years and months. Currently, the bitcoin community is divided over the future of the protocol, with some calling for code modifications that allow for faster financial growth potential and others hoping to keep the technology similar to its original form.
The Economist, BBC and GQ Magazine all agreed to a non-disclosure agreement that let Wright publish his blog post before their articles, and the media organisations had extensive access to him. Speaking to the BBC about the Australian Tax Office raid on his property, Wright said his lawyers were in contact with the ATO to negotiate his tax obligations. "We have lawyers negotiating with them over how much I have to pay," Wright told the BBC.
Wright's message to the bitcoin faithful, many of which congregate on Reddit's /r/bitcoin subreddit, is one of congratulations and thanks:
I have been staring at my screen for hours, but I cannot summon the words to express the depth of my gratitude to those that have supported the bitcoin project from its inception – too many names to list. You have dedicated vast swathes of your time, committed your gifts, sacrificed relationships and REM sleep for years to an open source project that could have come to nothing. And yet still you fought. This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance has taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it. You have given the world a great gift. Thank you.