The Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright, long-suspected of having created crypto-currency Bitcoin, has today confirmed his identity.
Mr Wright has publicly identified himself as the Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto in an interview with the BBC and two other publications, The Economist and GQ.
His admission ends years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system.
Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator.
Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team have also confirmed Mr Wright’s claim.
At the meeting with the BBC, Mr Wright digitally signed messages using cryptographic keys created during the early days of Bitcoin’s development, the broadcaster said. The keys are inextricably linked to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created or “mined” by Satoshi Nakamoto.
“These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January  as the first bitcoin transaction,” said Mr Wright.
The renowned cryptographer Hal Finney was one of the engineers who helped turn Mr Wright’s ideas into the Bitcoin protocol, the Australian said.
On May 2nd he published a blog post offering what he says is cryptographic proof that he is indeed the creator of Bitcoin, The Economist said.
“We interviewed him, reviewed the documents he has provided and talked to Bitcoin insiders who have communicated with Mr Nakamoto in the past and who had access to the same information.
“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” the magazine said.
“Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created Bitcoin.”
Here are some key facts about Bitcoin.
What is it?
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is created from computer code. Unlike a real-world currency such as the dirham, 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. Advocates say this makes it an efficient alternative to traditional currencies because it is not subject to the whims of a state that may wish to devalue its money to inflate away debt, for example.
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.
Where does it come from?
Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as a bit of software written under the Japanese-sounding name Satoshi Nakamoto which, it now appears, hid Craig Wright’s true identity. Other digital currencies followed but Bitcoin was by far the most popular.
Transactions happen when heavily encrypted codes are passed across a computer network. The network as a whole monitors and verifies the transaction in a process that is intended to ensure no single Bitcoin can be spent in more than one place simultaneously.
Users can “mine” Bitcoins – bring new ones into being – by having their computers run complicated and increasingly difficult processes.
However, the model is limited and only 21 million units will ever be created.
What is it worth?
Like any other currency, its value fluctuates. But unlike most real-world analogues, Bitcoin’s value has swung wildly in a short period.
When the unit first came into existence it was worth a few US cents. Its price topped out at well over US$1,000 in 2013. Now, a single Bitcoin is worth about $460.
There are presently more than 15 million units in circulation. Some economists point to the fact that – because it is limited – its price will increase over the long run, making it less useful as a currency and more a vehicle to store value, like gold. But others point to Bitcoin’s volatility, security issues and other weaknesses.
What is the future?
Some commentators say that like many technological developments, the first iteration of a product will encounter difficulties, possibly terminal ones. But the trail it blazes might smooth the way for the next crypto currency.
Problems include an apparent vulnerability to theft when Bitcoins are stored in digital wallets.
The virtual currency movement also faces legitimacy issues because of the way it allows for anonymous transactions – the very thing that libertarian adopters like about it.
Detractors say Bitcoin’s use on the underground Silk Road website, where users could buy drugs and guns with it, is proof that it is a bad thing.
Some governments, including Russia and China, have heavily restricted how Bitcoins can be used.
If Bitcoin does become more widely accepted, experts say, it could lead to more government regulations, which would negate the very attraction of the Bitcoin concept.
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