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Another Nakamoto

2 May 2016 By Richard Beales

It really shouldn’t matter who conceived of bitcoin. There’s historical curiosity, of course, and a legacy of sorts for the way in which one or more people showed vision and coding smarts to create the cryptocurrency and related technology, particularly the blockchain ledger. It’s all now supposed to have a life of its own, however. If it didn’t, it would defeat the purpose.

Australian technology entrepreneur Craig Wright’s claim to be bitcoin’s creator should therefore be immaterial to its future. Some are skeptical of this latest Satoshi Nakamoto, the mastermind’s nom de code. The last person to be unmasked as the inventor – one Dorian Nakamoto of California – denied the connection.

Bitcoin as a currency gets its appeal because of a pre-defined and limited supply which gives it immunity from the whims of virtual monetary policymakers, unlike government-issued fiat money. And blockchain technology allows the majority of bitcoin users to decide upon the accuracy of a ledger of past transactions, a method of near-instant trade confirmation that’s viewed as foolproof and tamper-proof. That is of great interest to banks and others in the financial industry.

If it came out that bitcoin’s creator was a crook or a government agent, for example, it might set back the credibility of the protocols and software involved, even though they’re available for all to examine. That aside, though, the technology is now – as far as anyone can tell – controlled by the global bitcoin community, not by any individuals. Perfect anonymity, although associated with dealings in bitcoin, isn’t actually something claimed by most of its proponents.

For anyone interested in bitcoin’s value, however, there is a caveat. The creator probably has a big personal stash – maybe up to 1 million bitcoins, worth about $440 million. That may explain why police raided Wright’s home and office after he was named by Wired magazine in December. Whoever Nakamoto may be, any quick sale of a big sum could torpedo the price of bitcoin. That, however, would be a market problem, not a technological one.

 

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