The race to discover who created bitcoin has taken yet another turn, as someone claiming to be creator Satoshi Nakamoto has denied being Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright, who was this week named by investigative journalists as the man behind the famous cryptocurrency. The details closely resemble those of March 2014, when another man was thought to be Nakamoto.
A post on the bitcoin developer mailing list with the subject line "Not this again" states: "I am not Craig Wright. We are all Satoshi." The message appears to have been sent from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, an address known to have been used by bitcoin's pseudonymous creator. But this could easily have been forged by a prankster, someone looking to add fuel to the flames, or by Wright himself.
The denial is very similar to that made by another account by the name as Satoshi Nakamoto in March 2014, after a Newsweek article wrongly claimed the creator of bitcoin was 64-year-old Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, a Japanese man who lived in Los Angeles and claimed after the article was published to have never heard of bitcoin. That message, posted on the P2P Foundation's Ning communication network, read: "I am not Dorian Nakamoto." This too appeared to use an email address used by Nakamoto in the 2009 white paper, which first publicly revealed the bitcoin currency.
At the time, Ning's creator, Josef Davies-Coates, said the post was made by someone with access to the same Satoshi Nakamoto email address which first posted a link to the bitcoin white paper in the same discussion thread in 2009. "Perhaps whoever created that account is indeed the 'real' person, whoever that is. I'd guess they likely are," he said.
The new post comes a day after joint reports by Wired and Gizmodo claimed Wright was likely the creator of bitcoin, citing evidence leaked to them by an unknown source and corroborated by numerous interviews. Since their publication, Wright's house and office have been raided by police and he has deleted his entire online existence. Wright's Twitter profile, blog and Amazon reviews profile have all been closed.
But why must Nakamoto be unmasked?
A key reason for discovering the real identity – or identities – of Satoshi Nakamoto is his claimed ownership of 1m bitcoins, worth over $455m (£300m). With 14m bitcoins in circulation, plus a further 7m to be mined over the course of the next 100 years, a single anonymous person owning 1m coins has a significant share of an entire currency, and could cause significant damage to its value if the entire pot was sold off or given away at once.
Linking Wright to Nakamoto's bitcoin treasure trove are documents, given to Wired and Gizmodo, claiming he will become the owner of a secret bitcoin trust fund in the Seychelles, a tax haven. This trust will be passed to Wright on 1 January 2020 – and it contains 1,100,111 bitcoins.
Further evidence linking Wright with Nakamoto are five PGP email encryption keys used to manage the trust; searches for those keys in public databases reveal that one belongs to Wright, and one belongs to Dave Kleiman, a computer forensics expert who is believed to have created bitcoin with Wright, but died in 2013. Searches also reveal that two of the keys belong to Satoshi Nakamoto.
Should Wright cash in or give away his bitcoins in January 2020, the currency's value will likely tumble due to over 1m new coins flooding the market. Wright's share, and the power it could give him, will make him the closest thing to a central bank that bitcoin has ever had – the very thing Nakamoto's peer-to-peer currency was designed to do away with.