'Bitcoin creator': I do not have the courage

Craig Wright Image copyright PA
Image caption Dr Wright blogged that he was "not strong enough" to publish proof that he invented Bitcoin

On Monday, the BBC gave extensive coverage to Craig Wright's claims that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. The following day, as many in the cryptographic community tore into his claims, he promised further "extraordinary proof".

But in the last 24 hours, he has first initiated an experiment designed to show that he does possess Satoshi's cryptographic keys, then done an about-turn with a blog saying he "does not have the courage" to carry this through.

I have always stressed that it was his endorsement by Jon Matonis and Gavin Andresen from the Bitcoin Foundation that we found compelling. But now they - and I - have been involved in this failed experiment, which is bound to raise fresh doubts.

Here's what happened.

On Monday evening, I suggested to Wright's PR firm that if he could send me a fraction of a coin from an early Bitcoin block - which of course I would return - that might show he had Satoshi's keys. But Wright's team came up with a different plan on Wednesday afternoon.

They sent me a draft blog in which he outlined a scheme that would see Matonis, Andresen and the BBC all send small amounts of Bitcoin to the address used in the first ever transaction. Then he would send it back, in what would be the first outgoing transactions from the block since January 2009.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAustralian entrepreneur Craig Wright says he is Mr Bitcoin

We went ahead with our payments - I sent 0.017BTC (about £5), which you can still see in the online records. Matonis and Andresen sent similar amounts.

Then we waited. And waited. Then my phone rang - with the news that the whole operation was "on hold", with no reason given.

Eighteen hours later we are still waiting for the payments to be made - and now Wright's new blog says that is not going to happen.

I have relied throughout on the expertise of Matonis and Andresen. As of this moment, neither has withdrawn their original statements of support for Wright's case.

Indeed, I understand that Jon Matonis, while concerned at the way events have unfolded, is adamant that he still believes Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto based on other evidence he has seen.