A COMPUTER scientist who claims to be the mythical founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, has been spotted arriving at court.
Dr Craig Wright, 53, arrived at London’s Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday for the second day of a bombshell trial to unravel crypto’s biggest mystery.
The Australian-born, English-resident IT expert claims he developed Bitcoin – the world’s first decentralised cryptocurrency – and authored the 2008 white paper under the name Satoshi Nakamoto.
But the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (Copa) believes otherwise, and filed a lawsuit against Wright in the UK in 2021, seeking a ruling that Wright is not in fact the pseudonymous author.
The cryptocurrency world is largely in agreeance that Wright is not the real Nakamoto, who was active in the development of Bitcoin until December 2010, and who Wright has claimed to be since 2016.
Whoever Bitcoin’s founder really is, is sitting on an enormous stash of cryptocurrency now worth £36billion – which would make them one of the world’s richest people.
The asset is a form of digital currency which uses digital coins created or “mined” using complex calculations performed by computers.
It is used as an alternative payment method or speculative investment, and ultimately aims to eliminate the need for central authorities like banks or governments.
Speculation about Nakamoto’s true identity has run rampant for years and mostly involved software and cryptography experts in the United States or Europe.
Timeline of Nakamoto’s disappearance
THE man, the myth and the legend of Satoshi Nakamoto is sitting on a pile of crypo-currency worth £36billion.
Nakamoto is believed to be a pseudonym and the true identity of the inventor remains shrouded in mystery.
2007 – Nakamoto worked on the first ever version of the software in 2007 and all communication to and from him was conducted via email.
2008 – The mystery man first introduced the concept of cryptocurrency and the blockchain system of verification to the world in a 2008 paper.
2010 – His involvement with Bitcoin ended in 2010 and his last correspondence was that he had “moved onto other things”.
And ever since, a series of characters have claimed or been accused of being Nakamoto.
2014 – Newsweek thought they had found their Satoshi Nakamoto – a computer engineer living in Temple City in Los Angeles County.
And while the Japanese-American man, named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, firmly denied he was the shadowy force behind the infamous cryptocurrency – the plot continued to thicken.
It soon emerged that computer scientist Hal Finney, who was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction, lived a “few blocks” from the seemingly-oblivious Nakamoto.
However, people later believed that Finney was either a ghostwriter for the Bitcoin creator or simply used his neighbour’s name as a moniker.
The other best known Nakamoto-suspect is Australian computer scientist and businessman Craig Wright.
But unlike the other leading contenders, Wright began actually claiming he is Nakamoto in 2016.
2016 – Wright said he provided technical “proof” to the BBC, The Economist and GQ.
This consisted of a demonstration of the verification process used in the very first Bitcoin transaction.
He then posted an apology on his blog stating that he no longer had the “courage” to continue the process of proving his identity.
Wright subsequently appeared in Netflix documentary Banking on Bitcoin and once again claimed to be Nakamoto in what he said would be his final filmed interview.
However, he has continued to try and legally battle to ‘prove’ he is the Bitcoin founder.
And whether he is or not might finally be decided at a trial which started on Monday.
In 2015, American magazine Wired wrote that Wright “either invented Bitcoin or is a brilliant hoaxer who very badly wants us to believe he did”.
Jonathan Hough KC, who is representing Copa, told the high court on Monday that Wright’s claim to be the author of the founding text of bitcoin was a “brazen lie and elaborate false narrative supported by forgery on an industrial scale”.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is backing Copa in its fight to obtain a “negative declaration” that Wright is not Nakamoto.
Hough said: “On the basis of his dishonest claim to be Satoshi, he has pursued claims he puts at hundreds of billions of dollars, including against numerous private individuals.”
He added in written submissions: “Dr Wright has consistently failed to supply genuine proof of his claim to be Satoshi: instead, he has repeatedly proffered documents which bear clear signs of having been doctored.”
The barrister argued Wright’s conduct had “deadly serious” consequences for some who faced legal action based on his claims.
Previously, a spokesperson for Wright described the trial as “really a war” over who sets the rules for the Bitcoin blockchain – a digital record that tracks ownership of a cryptocurrency.
He told The Guardian: “Think of it as a modern-day tech battle, akin to that between Blu-ray and HD DVD or, for even older readers, Betamax versus VHS.”
The total value of the Bitcoin market is worth about £657billion.
Wright offered to settle the case last month, which observers said suggested he was not confident he could win.
The offer was rejected by Copa who posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Hard pass on that ‘settlement’.”
The group added that a settlement “would allow him to sue people all over again”, referring to Wright previously using English libel law to sue people who denied he was the inventor of Bitcoin and those who called him a fraud.
The risks of buying with cryptocurrencies
Investing and making a purchase in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is risky .
Their value is highly volatile and City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority has warned investors should be prepared to lose all their money.
Investing in cryptocurrencies is not a guaranteed way to make money.
You should also think carefully about making purchases with a cryptocurrency.
For example, Bitcoin has had wild price fluctuations in recent months and the price can change on an almost hourly basis.
The price of a Bitcoin was at $40,258 on January 9, according to Coindesk, but fell to $34,214 just three days later.
That’s a 15% drop.
These price swings are risky for a business as you could sell an item for a Bitcoin at one price and the value may drop soon after, leaving you with less money from a sale.
Similarly, the price of Bitcoin has soared by more than 21% since the start of this week so it can be hard for a shopper to get an accurate idea of the price of an item if its value changes on a daily basis.