Bitcoin (BTC) has seen growing interest from the mainstream public over the past several years as the borderless, digital, gold-like, blockchain-based asset continues its price path independent from government control. The definitive identity of bitcoin’s anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, however, still remains a mystery. Would it change the public’s view of bitcoin, as well as its price, if Nakamoto’s identity was discovered?
“It could make bitcoin seem less legitimate as a neutral currency since this person would be seen as having outsized influence,” Emmanuel Goh, cofounder and CEO of cryptocurrency data analytics company Skew, told me in an email.
[Ed note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment.]
Almost 12 years ago, someone operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published the written framework for bitcoin. Referred to as a white paper, Nakamoto’s written framework outlined a “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” The concept laid out in Nakamoto’s white paper went live several months later, with the digital currency hitting the internet in early 2009.
Since its inception, bitcoin has surged in value, from less than a dollar, all the way up to nearly $20,000 per coin. The asset has also undergone a series of identity changes as the public’s view of the asset transformed with its rising price. Over the last decade or so, bitcoin transformed from a transactional currency, to an investment, to a financial asset, and everything in between, detailed further by Twitter personality PlanB in an interview with podcaster Peter McCormack.
While a number of people have attempted to uncover Nakamoto’s true identity, it seems the crypto community still holds no definitive answer. Judging from early communications, theories range from deceased computer scientist Hal Finney, to cryptographer Adam Back.
Also factoring into the equation is Nakamoto’s alleged stash of bitcoin. The creator reportedly holds control of almost one million bitcoin from the asset’s early days, according to research from RSK Labs cofounder Sergio Lerner.
Charlie Lee’s Take
Charlie Lee, creator of the multi-billion dollar market cap crypto asset litecoin, said he does not think the publication of Nakamoto’s true identity would have much effect on the crypto space.
“If we find out who Satoshi is, it won’t affect bitcoin as a whole much at all, though there’s definitely some mystique not knowing who Satoshi is,” Lee told me in a direct message. “It’s such an interesting and compelling story,” he added. “So on one hand, I hope we never find out, but on the other hand, I would love to know.”
Aside from the sale of Nakamoto’s massive bitcoin holdings, Lee said he thinks the big reveal would not dramatically impact bitcoin’s price. Even the sale of Nakamoto’s holdings, however, would only cause a temporary market reaction, he added.
Lee said he does not know who lies behind the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, adding, “but even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
John McAfee’s Take
Eccentric millionaire and tech expert John McAfee, the man originally responsible for McAfee security software, claims he knows Nakamoto’s identity. In April 2019, McAfee tweeted his intention to publicly unveil person or group behind the pseudonym, although he later decided against such a move. McAfee posited one person under the Nakamoto pseudonym wrote bitcoin’s white paper, and several people worked on the coin’s development.
“The asset itself [bitcoin] has virtually no significance in determining the ‘outing’ of Satoshi,” McAfee told me via email correspondence. “I spoke to Satoshi more than two years ago,” he said. “I explained how I arrived at his identity and was 99% certain that I was correct.”
According to McAfee, Nakamoto responded, saying that if McAfee was correct in his conclusion, then Nakamoto could essentially afford to hire everyone necessary to protect himself, both financially against tax-seeking governments, as well as physically against those trying to steal his BTC holdings.
“But what if the 1% probability that I was wrong turned out to be reality,” McAfee said of his hunch on Nakamoto’s identity.
“I would then have sentenced an innocent man to certain torture and death. Are any of you certain enough? If not, then shut the f*** up and get back to your own business.”
Tone Vays’ Take
Tone Vays, Derivatives trader, YouTube content creator and organizer of The Financial Summit, also said he does not think a present-day Nakamoto reveal would significantly impact bitcoin’s price or people’s view of the asset.
“The next day he would get 100 phone calls from very high-net-worth investors and hedge funds looking to buy it directly from him so that it will not affect the price and potentially damage their current positions,” Vays noted.
Massive amounts of bitcoin are typically not available at the asset’s going market rate on exchange order books. Buying a lot of the asset on exchanges can therefore increase bitcoin’s price as the interested entity buys up the available bitcoin on the exchange, paying a higher price after purchasing all the BTC at the going rate.
Buying over-the-counter (OTC) off of these exchange order books means parties can pick up a bundle of the asset at a single price point. According to Vays, many wealthy entities might call Nakamoto to buy Bitcoin from him directly, in bulk, at a single price point, off of exchange order books.
As theories continue rolling in on Nakamoto’s possible identity, only time will tell how the market might react if the masked and mysterious figure’s identity officially comes to light.
Disclaimer: I actively trade cryptocurrencies, as well as hold a small amount of BTC, ETH, LTC, XMR, NEO, ZEC, BEAM, BCH, DASH, LINK, XTZ and various insignificant other altcoin positions.