The creator of Bitcoin has been a mystery for many years. Known only for the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, the mastermind behind the digital currency remained anonymous since Bitcoin was launched in 2009.
Speculations on the identity of the Bitcoin creator, however, may soon be put to an end after an Australian claimed to be the elusive person behind the controversial virtual currency that has attracted the interests of financial institutions, criminals and regulators.
Craig Wright identified himself on Monday as the inventor of the world's most popular digital currency. Wright, who described himself as a computer scientist and entrepreneur, has held jobs relating to IT, computer science and cybersecurity.
Cryptographers suggested of at least two ways the creator of Bitcoin could identify himself. One is that Nakamoto could move some of the earliest Bitcoins that he has never spent. He may also use cryptographic "private keys" to sign a message that would transform the message's data so as to prove he has the keys that only Nakamoto would have.
Wright said he can't send the bitcoins because these are now owned by a trust. Nonetheless, he performed the second test signing a message chosen by Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen with a key from the first block of 50 coins claimed by an early Bitcoin miner, in this case Nakamoto himself.
The private demo, comparable to showing proof Wright has the secret credentials to get into Nakamoto's bank account, had Andresen convinced Wright is indeed who he claims to be.
Wright also published a largely technical post on his blog demonstrating his ability to use Nakamoto's cryptographic keys to prove he is the founder of the digital currency.
Some, however, remain skeptical. Security researcher Dan Kaminsky said Wright simply re-used a signature that was already public.
"What he actually has is Satoshi's signature on parts of the public Blockchain, which of course means he doesn't need the private key and he doesn't need to be Satoshi." Kaminsky wrote.
"The Blockchain is totally public and of course has signatures from Satoshi, so Wright being able to lift a signature from here isn't surprising at all."
Cryptocurrency expert Emin Gun Sirer, from Cornell University, shares the same view. He said that Wright failed to provide Satoshi Nakamoto's "free-standing signature."
"Even with cryptographic proof, there's still the possibility that the real Satoshi's keys may have been compromised or reverse-engineered," Sirer said. "But we have not even seen that yet. What we've seen looks like a deliberate attempt to mislead."