Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has identified himself as Satoshi Nakamato, the pseudonymous creator of the digital currency bitcoin.
Wright, who was named as the cryptocurrency’s founder by two separate media investigations in December, made the admission in a blog post on Monday, providing what he says is technical proof of his claim.
He also provided evidence to the BBC, reportedly including the use of cryptographic keys linked to the same blocks of bitcoin Nakamoto sent another developer, Hal Finney, in the currency’s first transaction in 2009.
His claim was backed up by Jon Matonis, one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, who said he “had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical”.
“It is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories,” he said.
Wright, 45, is an Australian IT and security consultant, who described himself on a now-deleted LinkedIn page as a “senior management executive information security specialist”.
Until recently he was the director of more than a dozen companies, some involved in cryptocurrency, until he divested himself of 12 of them in the space of a week in July 2015.
Wired and Gizmodo published investigations in December claiming to reveal Wright’s identity based on leaked transcripts, emails and financial records. Wright declined to comment on the stories, which were the subject of scepticism among some of his contemporaries.
The same day his north Sydney home was raided by Australian federal police in connection with a tax investigation, unrelated to bitcoin.
Wright said on Monday he was unmasking himself because “I care so passionately about my work, and also to dispel any negative myths and fears about bitcoin”.
“I cannot allow the misinformation that has been spread to impact the future of bitcoin and the blockchain,” he said in a statement.
Cryptocurrencies, among which bitcoin is the dominant version, allow consumers to make electronic transactions without commercial banks as intermediaries, and outside the reach of central banks.
There are around 15.5m bitcoins currently in circulation, including the million or so reportedly owned by Nakamoto, giving the founder – or founders – a net worth of around US$450m, at the current price.
One bitcoin is currently worth around £306 (US$449).
Nakamato’s identity has been the subject of fierce speculation since he outlined the ideas behind bitcoin in an academic “white paper” in October 2008.
The software behind the system was launched the following year, Nakamoto continuing to develop it, with others, until he abruptly stepped back in April 2011, saying he had “moved on to other things”.
Media organisations including the New Yorker and Newsweek have unsuccessfully tried to reveal Nakamoto’s identity in past years.
Wright on Monday said the pseudonym was an homage to Tominaga Nakamoto, a 17th century Japanese philosopher, merchant and advocate of free trade.
He wrote on his blog: “Satoshi is dead. But this is only the beginning.”
After the December stories, Wright reportedly approached the author Andrew O’Hagan, to whom he also provided evidence of his involvement in bitcoin for an upcoming piece in the London Review of Books.
The Economist, to which Wright also gave evidence, said it had concluded the Australian “could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that nagging questions remain”.
David Glance, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Western Australia, who has worked with Wright in the past, told the Guardian he remained “highly sceptical”.
“I would wait until we’ve actually seen absolutely proof that it’s the case,” he said.
This article was written by Michael Safi, for theguardian.com on Monday 2nd May 2016 10.04 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010