The Bitcoin affair: Craig Wright promises extraordinary proof

Rory Cellan-Jones
Technology correspondent
@BBCRoryCJon Twitter

Craig Wright

The man who has identified himself as the creator of Bitcoin plans to provide further proof of his claim.

Craig Wright's spokesman told the BBC that the Australian would "move a coin from an early block" known to belong to the crypto-currency's inventor "in the coming days".

The entrepreneur announced he was behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto on Monday.

Critics have said that the evidence produced to date is unconvincing.

In a new blog - published after I first wrote this article - Dr Wright said it was right that the public was sceptical about his claims, but added that he would soon present "extraordinary" evidence to support his case.

"I will be posting a series of pieces that will lay the foundations for this extraordinary claim, which will include posting independently-verifiable documents and evidence addressing some of the false allegations that have been levelled, and transferring bitcoin from an early block," he wrote.

"For some there is no burden of proof high enough, no evidence that cannot be dismissed as fabrication or manipulation. This is the nature of belief and swimming against this current would be futile.

"I will present what I believe to be 'extraordinary proof' and ask only that it be independently validated. Ultimately, I can do no more than that."

You can read the strongest attack on Dr Wright in this post on Github, where his original post was described as "flimflam and hokum which stands up to a few minutes of cursory scrutiny, and demonstrates a competent sysadmin's level of familiarity with cryptographic tools, but ultimately demonstrates no non-public information about Satoshi."

Media caption,
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright says he is Mr Bitcoin

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The author goes on to speculate that Craig Wright "used amateur magician tactics to distract non-technical or non-expert staff of the BBC and the Economist during a stage-managed demonstration."

It's not completely unfair to describe me and Mark Ward - the other BBC reporter at the briefing - as non-technical or non-expert. Indeed, in yesterday's blog I said this: "What we saw seemed impressive - though it would need a far higher level of expertise than we possess to be certain."

But what I also said was that Jon Matonis - a senior director at the Bitcoin Foundation - was present at the briefing and actually talked us through the process being demonstrated by Craig Wright. He had told us earlier that he had first suspected Craig was Satoshi last year, after meeting him at a Bitcoin convention in Australia, and in recent weeks had spent a lot of time with him and seen evidence he found compelling.

We also knew that the Bitcoin Foundation's chief scientist Gavin Andresen, a respected figure I had interviewed a couple of years ago, was going to say that he believed Craig was Satoshi.

Media caption,
Bitcoin scientist Gavin Andresen said on Monday that he believed Craig Wright's claim

On Monday morning, conspiracy theories began to spread that Andresen had been hacked and these were not his views. I explained to a few people that we'd soon know as he was due to speak at a New York conference, and a few hours later up he popped to say, no, he hadn't been hacked, and yes, he was convinced by Craig Wright.

The trouble is that Dr Wright's blog has not convinced the wider public.

He had told me last week that he intended it to be convoluted. He wanted to show those who doubted his intellectual capabilities that he really knew what he was talking about - instead he has managed to make them more suspicious.

This morning, I have managed to reach Jon Matonis, who is at a cryptocurrency event in Kenya. He remains absolutely convinced by Craig Wright but agrees that the blog hasn't helped his case.

"It needs to be amended because it's not conclusive for the general public. But that does not take away from what I saw in private," he explained.

As far as I can see it, if Dr Wright can move one of Satoshi's bitcoins - as promised - that should convince many of the doubters.

But don't expect everybody to be convinced.