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Australian entrepreneur says he invented bitcoin

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright says he's the inventor of the digital currency bitcoin.

Wright told the BBC that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the shadowy creator of the cryptocurrency, in a move that could end the years-long search for the inventor. In a follow-up blog post on Monday, Wright thanked everyone who helped out in bitcoin's beginnings.

"I have been staring at my screen for hours, but I cannot summon the words to express the depth of my gratitude to those that have supported the bitcoin project from its inception — too many names to list. You have dedicated vast swathes of your time, committed your gifts, sacrificed relationships and REM sleep for years to an open source project that could have come to nothing. And yet still you fought. This incredible community's passion and intellect and perseverance has taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it. You have given the world a great gift. Thank you," Wright wrote.

"Be assured, just as you have worked, I have not been idle during these many years. Since those early days, after distancing myself from the public persona that was Satoshi, I have poured every measure of myself into research. I have been silent, but I have not been absent. I have been engaged with an exceptional group and look forward to sharing our remarkable work when they are ready."

To prove his claim, Wright digitally signed a message using the cryptographic keys that were associated with the creator and was backed up by experts.

"These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction," Wright told the BBC.

Wright said Finney helped turn his vision of bitcoin into reality.

Bitcoin with QR code
Benoit Tessier | Reuters
Bitcoin with QR code

Jon Matonis, co-founder of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation, said he believed Wright's claims after seeing the same demonstration.

"During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social and technical. Based on what I witnessed, it is my firm belief that Craig Steven Wright satisfies all three categories," Matonis wrote in a blog post on Monday.

"The social evidence, including his unique personality, early emails that I received, and early drafts of the Bitcoin white paper, points to Craig as the creator. I also received satisfactory explanations to my questions about registering the bitcoin.org domain and the various time-of-day postings to the BitcoinTalk forum. Additionally, Craig's technical working knowledge of public key cryptography, Bitcoin's addressing system, and proof-of-work consensus in a distributed peer-to-peer environment is very strong."

For years, news organizations have been investigating who the real founder of bitcoin is, with several names being mentioned. Someone or a group of people called "Satoshi Nakamoto" was always associated with the invention of the cryptocurrency, but nobody knew who was behind the name.

In 2014, Newsweek said that the bitcoin creator was a 64-year-old Japanese-American living in California named Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitcoin has gained a notorious reputation as a currency that allows people to anonymously buy illegal items online. But it's also accepted as a form of payment by many companies, including Microsoft. Many financial institutions have begun looking at ways to use blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin.