Satoshi Nakamoto’s Identity and Other Bitcoin Mysteries
Who Traded Over $1B Worth of Bitcoin in September of 2019?
Key to Bitcoin’s success, and intrigue, is the anonymity it provides. In early September, 2019, a wallet was involved in a series of transactions, receiving a total of over one billion dollars worth of Bitcoin. Anyone can see the transactions on the blockchain ledger, but what they won’t be able to determine is the real-world identity of the parties involved. Who would trade that kind of money, and why?
It has been reportedly determined that 30% of the currency came from Huobi Global, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Singapore, but they remain mum on the details surrounding the exchange.
Regardless, the massive deal bumped Bitcoin’s price from $10,569 to $10,790.
Since its introduction in 2008 Bitcoin has captured the public imagination. There are the obvious questions: What is it? How does it work? Above and beyond this, Bitcoin, by its very nature, lends itself to folklore, speculation and mystery. Here are four such cases.
Any discussion of Bitcoin’s mysteries must start with the granddaddy of them all: just who, or what, is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
In 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto was the supposed publisher of a nine-page white paper which introduced the concept of Bitcoin to the world. Several months later Nakamoto released Bitcoin’s first software, and began interacting with developers, coders and interested parties. He remained visible online until 2011, when he vanished from view, taking his one million bitcoins with him.
The years since have seen exponential growth in Bitcoin’s value, as well as its public profile. Not surprisingly, interest in Nakamoto’s identity has skyrocketed as well.
In 2014 Newsweek claimed to have discovered the answer, pointing the finger at Dorian Nakamoto, a Japanese American graduate of California Polytechnic. Dorian was known to share some of the libertarian leanings featured in the white paper, and had apparently made some incriminating statements to the journalist covering the story. Dorian Nakamoto denies being the famous founder.
Others point to Nick Szabo, a computer engineer who had worked on Bit Gold, a precursor to Bitcoin, although this has never been proven.
Many believe Australian scientist Craig Wright to be Nakamoto. In contrast to other prominent suspects, Wright seems to revel in the attention, and has gone so far as to provide screenshots as evidence of his early involvement. Skeptics dismiss these as forgery, and, suffice to say, nothing is settled.
The whole thing has become a bit of a circus for interested parties and internet sleuths. It’s no trivial matter, as Nakamoto is in possession of one million Bitcoins, approximately 5% of the amount that will ever exist. A sudden dumping of his stash could send shockwaves through the marketplace. If he re-emerged, his opinions could be influential amongst those who debate the coin’s future.
Given the inactivity of Nakamoto, and his funds, there is speculation that the individual has died. Some contend that he’s not a he at all, but a she. Others believe ‘he’ is actually a group of people, perhaps even a state-actor. With all that’s at stake, don’t expect this debate to die down anytime soon.
What Really Went on at Quadriga?
When Gerald Cotten, chief executive of Canada’s once-largest cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga, apparently died in January of 2019, a lot of cryptocurrency went with him. Five of the six wallets he was known to use were found to be empty. His widow, Jennifer Robertson, claimed that Cotten had transferred the funds to a holding wallet. Apparently Cotten had taken the passkey for that wallet to the grave, leaving customers in astonishment.
Not surprisingly legal action followed, and a court ordered investigation conducted by accountancy firm Ernst & Young uncovered a complex web of deception, embezzlement and fraud conducted by Cotten; a mystery partially solved.
Why did Google Searches for BTC Suddenly Surge?
A sudden uptick in a particular Google search term can identify increasing interest, and, in the case of currencies, can foreshadow a rise in demand.
With this in mind, when searches for ‘BTC’, Bitcoin’s trading name, shot suddenly upward, traders scrambled for an explanation. What was behind the sudden interest? Why did ‘BTC’ rise drastically with no corresponding increase in searches for ‘Bitcoin’?
The answer was hiding in plain sight: BTC not only stood for Bitcoin, but also for Bahamas Telecommunications Company. When the island was battered by deadly hurricane Dorian, mobile customers were affected. It was this, and not a sudden increase in interest for Bitcoin, that was behind the surge.
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Sharma, Rakesh. “Three People Who Were Supposedly Bitcoin Founder Satoshi Nakamoto.” Investopedia. Investopedia, July 10, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/tech/three-people-who-were-supposedly-bitcoin-founder-satoshi-nakamoto/.
Huff, Steve. “Someone Made a Single $1 Billion Bitcoin Transaction and No One Knows Why.” Maxim, September 12, 2019. https://www.maxim.com/news/1-billion-bitcoin-transaction-mystery-2019-9.
Huillet, Marie. “Mystery Behind Sudden Spike in ‘BTC’ Searches Tied to Hurricane Dorian.” Cointelegraph. Cointelegraph, September 7, 2019. https://cointelegraph.com/news/mystery-behind-sudden-spike-in-btc-searches-tied-to-hurricane-dorian.
Cuthbertson, Anthony. “Cryptocurrency Mystery Deepens as $143m from Dead Owner’s Bitcoin Wallet Goes Missing.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, March 4, 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/cryptocurrency-exchange-quadriga-bitcoin-wallet-missing-a8806816.html.
Hochstein, Marc, and Nikhilesh De. “QuadrigaCX CEO Set Up Fake Crypto Exchange Accounts With Customer Funds.” CoinDesk. CoinDesk, June 20, 2019. https://www.coindesk.com/quadrigacx-ceo-set-up-fake-crypto-exchange-accounts-with-customer-funds.