Legend: Satoshi Nakamoto, the mastermind behind Bitcoin

FinTech Magazine profiles Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious developer of the world's most valuable cryptocurrency Bitcoin

While some leading figures in finance are ‘legends’, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is truly ‘legendary’ in the sense that his/her/their true identity remains unknown - it is currently presumed to be a pseudonym. 

What is known is that Nakamoto developed Bitcoin, wrote the cryptocurrency’s original white paper, and deployed its reference implementation. Among their primary innovations was the resolution of digital currency’s ‘double spend’ flaw, wherein a single token could be transacted several times by one individual after already being used. This was countenanced by employing a peer-to-peer network to accurately record coin exchanges.

The primary development period for Bitcoin began in 2007. During its first few years, all modifications of the crypto’s source code were carried out by Nakamoto. However, in 2010, Gavin Andresen was given full control of its source code and Nakamoto reportedly ceased active involvement with Bitcoin. 

  • “The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust”

Since the popular crypto’s inception there has been copious speculation on Nakamoto’s true identity. Self-proclamations of being born in 1975 and living in Japan have been met with scepticism: a preference for British English spelling and colloquialisms in verified forum posts have led some to believe Nakamoto could actually be from the Commonwealth of Nations. Similarly, timestamps between posts indicate that Nakamoto was most inactive between 2pm and 8pm Japanese time, even during weekends. Presuming that Nakamoto slept during these six hours, this potentially lends credence to the idea that they are not based in Japan.

Some specific (but unverified) identities have also been put forward, generally computer science experts of international renown. They include Hal Finney, Nick Szabo, Craig Wright, and Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. The latter assertion, despite having the same name and being a trained physicist and systems engineer, is still unsubstantiated by anything other than circumstantial evidence. 

Others believe that Bitcoin’s code is too sophisticated to have been created by an individual, and therefore must have been the product of a collective. Regardless, it is unlikely that Nakamoto’s true identity will be revealed unless they themselves choose to do so. With Bitcoin’s creation poised to be one of the most significant events in recent economic history - pathing the way, among other things, for the digitisation of currency and value - Nakamoto could one day be regarded as this century’s equivalent of the unnamed Chartres Cathedral architect. 

Each month, FinTech Magazine will be summarising the lives and careers of the most significant figures in finance. Read about them - as well as industry stats, infographics, exclusive interviews, and more - in our 'Upfront' section.

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