Does it matter whether Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto?

The only question is whether he has Satoshi's private key.

By Prasid Banerjee Published Date
02 - May - 2016
| Last Updated
04 - May - 2016
Does it matter whether Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Australian computer scientist, Craig Steven Wright, has claimed that he’s Satoshi Nakamoto, the fabled creator of Bitcoin, sparking skepticism against the claims. But does it matter whether Wright is indeed Satoshi Nakamoto? Mahin Gupta, Co-Founder, Zebpay, India’s first Bitcoin exchange, doesn’t think so. “The only thing that matters is whether he has the 1 million Bitcoins that Satoshi Nakamoto is supposed to have,” he said. Nakamoto has been known to have amassed a million Bitcoins over the years.

Gupta says that to him, and others dealing in Bitcoins, these million Bitcoins matter, because the person owning them has a big hold over the Bitcoin economy. “Personally, I don’t believe Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto, the proof isn’t enough,” said Gupta. According to him, the only way to prove Wright’s identity as Nakamoto, would be through his private key. He said that if Wright sends a message from Nakamoto’s account, others can use his public key to verify the account, as belonging to Nakamoto.

Craig Wright's presented evidence to The Economist, BBC and GQ, claiming to be the man behind Bitcoins.

“Even then, it just proves that he has control over Nakamoto’s account, and not that he indeed is Satoshi Nakamoto,” said Gupta. But control over the fabled Satoshi Nakamoto’s account is all that matters, according to him.

Gupta isn’t the only skeptic either. This Reddit thread claims that Wright’s signature, in his blog post, is “worthless”. “That's sort of the impression he seems to be giving, now that I re-read it. But, again, why not just publicly prove it instead of only demonstrating it to a select few people?” wrote user c_o_r_b_a. The want of public cryptographic evidence has been cited by many users on Reddit. Mahin Gupta, from Zebpay, said the same.

There is one important person, however, who believes in Craig Wright’s story. Gavin Andreson, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, said he believed Wright. In a blog post, Andreson wrote, “I was flown to London to meet Dr. Wright a couple of weeks ago, after an initial email conversation convinced me that there was a very good chance he was the same person I’d communicated with in 2010 and early 2011. After spending time with him I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt: Craig Wright is Satoshi.”

Andreson’s backing is important, since he’s one of the few people, known to have collaborated with Satoshi Nakamoto, in the initial days of Bitcoins. Nakamoto had since stopped his participation in Bitcoin. The Economist wrote, that Nakamoto’s successors have written far more code than he ever did. The Economist was one of three media channels who interviewed Wright before his announcement, the other two being BBC and GQ. It is also worth noting that earlier investigations by Wired, New Yorker and Newsweek, had also found Wright to be one of the contenders for being Satoshi Nakamoto.

Having said that, there are few who have the number of Bitcoins that Satoshi Nakamoto does. So, as Gupta said, it may not matter who Satoshi Nakamoto is, but who has control over his Bitcoin account. If Wright has the private key to that account, he is sitting on a million Bitcoins, which makes him very important in the volatile Bitcoin market.

Prasid BanerjeePrasid Banerjee

Trying to explain technology to my parents. Failing miserably.