Bitcoin creator confirms his identity as Australian Craig Wright in BBC interview

Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright has confirmed that he created crypto-currency Bitcoin.
Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright has confirmed that he created crypto-currency Bitcoin. PHOTO: HOW TO CREATE RESILIENCE/YOUTUBE
 Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright, long-suspected of having created crypto-currency Bitcoin, has confirmed his identity in an interview with the BBC released on Monday (May 2), ending years of speculation.
Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright, long-suspected of having created crypto-currency Bitcoin, has confirmed his identity in an interview with the BBC released on Monday (May 2), ending years of speculation.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters/AFP) - Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright, long-suspected of having created crypto-currency Bitcoin, has confirmed his identity in an interview with the BBC released on Monday (May 2), ending years of speculation.

The BBC said Mr Wright gave technical proof supporting his claim to using Bitcoins known to be owned by Bitcoin's creator. It said prominent members of the Bitcoin community had also confirmed Mr Wright's claim and said Mr Wright repeated the claim to The Economist and GQ.

"I was the main part of it, but other people helped me," the BBC quoted Mr Wright as saying.

He digitally signed messages using encryption keys that were created in the days following Bitcoin's 2009 launch. These keys had to be created by Mr Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used at the time by the currency's creator, the broadcaster said.

Mr Wright last year became the latest in a line of men alleged to be the creator of Bitcoin, a currency that has attracted the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Wired magazine, which along with fellow United States publication Gizmodo published a story outing Mr Wright based on a stash of leaked documents and e-mails, has called him a genius.

According to The Economist, Mr Wright is a 45-year-old computer scientist and inventor.

The Economist however said it was not entirely convinced. "Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain," it said. "Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin."

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the police were not immediately available for comment.

In a blog post dated on Monday, Mr Wright appeared to out himself as bitcoin founder by posting a technical explanation, including examples of code, of the process by which he created the currency.

He thanks all those who had supported the project from its inception.

"This incredible community's passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it," he wrote. "You have given the world a great gift. Thank you."

However, Mr Wright did not make a clear admission that he was Nakamoto. "Satoshi is dead," he said. "But this is only the beginning."

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is created from computer code.

Unlike a real-world currency such as the US dollar or the euro, it has no central bank and is not backed by any government. Instead, its community of users control and regulate it.

Just like other currencies, Bitcoins can be exchanged for goods and services - or for other currencies - provided the other party is willing to accept them.

In December, the police raided Mr Wright's Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency, a currency which has attracted the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

The police at the time referred all inquiries about the raids to the ATO, which said it could not comment on "any individual's or entity's tax affairs" due to legal confidentiality.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The ATO ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

Unlike traditional currency, bitcoins are not distributed by a central bank or backed by physical assets like gold, but are "mined" by users who use computers to calculate increasingly complex algorithmic formulas.

Bitcoin experts say that unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto would be significant for the industry. Not only would the proven founder likely hold some sway over the future of the bitcoin protocol, but Nakamoto may also hold enough bitcoin to influence its price.

As an early miner of bitcoins, Nakamoto is sitting on about 1 million bitcoins, worth more than US$400 million at present exchange rates, according to bitcoin expert Sergio Demian Lerner.