Australian claims to be creator of Bitcoin

Virtual currency has made him rich.

The mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, "Satoshi Nakamoto," is really Australian computer scientist and entrepreneur Craig Wright – at least according to Mr Wright.

Mr Wright presented technical evidence to backup his claims to the BBC, The Economist  and GQ.

However, some in the Bitcoin community are asking for more details.

In 2008, Mr "Nakamoto" published an academic paper on how Bitcoins could be awarded to anyone willing to donate vast amounts of their computer’s processing time to maintaining the bitcoin system.

Mr Wright has done a lot of that mining himself, accumulating around one million Bitcoins worth about $US449 each (for the maths-challenged, that puts his wealth at about $US449 million).

Today, there are about 15.5 million Bitcoins in circulation. Since it was launched in 2016, the digital currency has been volatile, hitting a high of more than $US1100 in 2013 before crashing to around $US224 per Bitcoin early last year before recovering to its current level.

While still far from mainstream, the virtual currency is slowly gaining traction. The high-profile Steam, which sells computer games online, now accepts Bitcoin, while ASB parent CBA is working with other banks to develop "block chain" technology – the Blockchain being the permanent record of all Bitcoin transactions that is held in multiple locations.

As Mark Pascall recently explained in an easy-to-follow, intriguing essay, the block chain is the key to how Bitcoin transactions can be trusted, despite its lack of a sovereign state or central back behind it.

But although the logic of the Bitcoin system is tight in its self-contained world, there is still the messy process of converting between Bitcoin and "real-world" currencies.

A number of exchanges have sprung up to facilitate this process. At one point, the largest was Mt Gox, which collapsed into liquidation following a series of hacking attempts.

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