Claims by US sociologist Ted Nelson revealing the true identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto have been rejected by the virtual currency community.
During a 12-minute YouTube video (see below) Nelson, who is credited with coining the term 'hypertext', claims the mysterious Bitcoin founder Nakamoto is actually Japanese mathematician and Kyoto University lecturer Shinichi Mochizuki, but provides little proof to back up his findings.
Hours after Nelson published his video, the 75-year-old's revelation was questioned by the Bitcoin community, which asked how Mochizuki, who is not known to have knowledge of computer programming, could create the currency.
Bitcoin is an online, digital currency that was launched in January, 2009 by programmer Satoshi Nakamoto and can be exchanged through a peer-to-peer network without the need for a bank. Nakamoto - believed to be an alias - published a paper in 2008 explaining how Bitcoin works.
Nakamoto described it as "a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash [that] would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution....a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust."
Major personality change
Nelson's statement was also dismissed by Tyler Jarvis, who claims to have gone to university with Mochizuki and sees him "every five years or so."
Jarvis tweeted: "I say, no way Shin Mochizuki even cares about things like Bitcoin. Crazy to say he invented it...unless [he] has undergone a major personality change since I saw him last, there is no way he cares about things like Bitcoin.
"Nelson is wrong. Shin Mochizuki certainly has the brainpower and the English to do this, but he doesn't care about things like this."
— Tyler Jarvis (@tj_jarvis) May 19, 2013
Nakamoto described himself as a male in his late 30s or early 40s living in Japan, but this was met with skepticism due to his use of English and the Bitcoin software containing no Japanese.
Nelson puts forward circumstantial evidence to support his claim, saying Mochizuki is the kind of genius who could create the incredibly complex way in which Bitcoin works, is known to publish his work online without comment or explanation, and was educated in the US, hence Nakamoto's fluent English.
A problem with this assumption, as pointed out by members of the BitcoinTalk forum, is that Nakamoto's writing is British English, not the American English used by Mochizuki.
BitcoinTalk user franky1 said: "Satoshi is not Shinichi Mochizuki. Why, you may ask? Simply because Satoshi wrote his Bitcoin white paper in British English, not American English."
Another flaw in Nelson's prediction is that Nakamoto didn't disappear into obscurity immediately after creating Bitcoin - as Mochizuki did when he published his papers on the abc conjecture number theory last year - and instead interacted with the Bitcoin community for some time before fading away.
Likening the Bitcoin creator, whoever it may be, to the level of Isaac Newton, Nelson said: "It's not like I'm accusing him of a crime. I'm accusing him of greatness."
Despite being met with criticism, Nelson's theory was shared by Ashwin Dixit, a computer programmer who conincidentally linked Mochizuki with Bitcoin's creation six days before Nelson published his video.
The virtual currency drew widespread attention earlier this year, when its value soared to more than $260 per coin, before crashing hours later to less than $100. Sustained attacks on Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which handles 70% of all transactions, caused more fluctuations in value and some Bitcoin users had their coins stolen before the market stabalised.