Cryptocurrency has undoubtedly taken over the financial services space. While the idea of digital currency can inspire skepticism in many, one cannot deny the impact such development has had on the global community.
The man who started it all, however, has been missing since 2011.
Nakamoto created his cryptocurrency with the goal of wresting control of currency from financial elites and putting it in the hands of the common man. Bitcoin came to life when Nakamoto published his famous white paper on a cryptography mailing list describing a digital currency that would allow secure, peer-to-peer transactions without the involvement of any middleman. These transactions would be tracked through a blockchain, a ledger like those used by any financial institution, distributed across an entire network, with exact duplicates held by all participants and visible to all, secured by cryptographic means. There will never be more than 21 million Bitcoin.
The first Bitcoin transaction occurred when Nakamoto sent 10 Bitcoins to Hal Finney, a well-known developer. The first commercial transaction came in 2010 when a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz bought himself two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin. At Bitcoin’s current price of nearly $60,000, those were some very expensive pizzas.
Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public. No one person owns or controls Bitcoin. Anyone can participate. While Satoshi continued to control Bitcoin’s development, users and developers congregated in Bitcoin forums to contribute code and work on the project, which had become a collaborative effort. The users running the Bitcoin software were the ultimate authority.
There are many suspicions surrounding the whereabouts of Nakamoto, and we can only speculate. What we do know is,
On January 3rd, 2009 — at around 18:15:05 UTC — Satoshi Nakamoto mined the very first bitcoin. He had revealed the creation to a tiny online community of cryptography-obsessed computer scientists and hackers. Satoshi was already a familiar name — if not a real one. Years before the world heard a peep about Bitcoin, someone using the Satoshi pseudonym had been posting to message boards and emailing fellow developers, never identifying a location, a nationality, or even a real name. Satoshi released Bitcoin and saw it begin to catch on, and then — in April 2011 — sent an email to a developer friend saying, “I’ve moved on to other things.”
After that? Satoshi disappeared into thin air.
Bitcoin runs through an autonomous software program that is ‘mined’ by people seeking bitcoin in a lottery-based system. Over the course of the next 20 years, a total of 21 million coins will be released. To date, about 18.5 million have been mined.
Today, Bitcoin is valued at more than $1 trillion, and while Nakamoto’s identity might be simply a matter of speculation for some, it means far more to others: He is said to own over 1 million Bitcoins with a current value hovering somewhere around $60 billion. That’s equivalent to about 5 percent of the total number of bitcoins currently in circulation.
Satoshi Was Active Behind the Scenes After He “Left” Bitcoin
Indeed, there was some back and forth between Satoshi and other developers, most notably on how to handle the publicity the project was then receiving, among other technical issues.
Increasingly, financial services behemoths like BlackRock, JPMorgan and BNY Mellon are offering cryptocurrencies and related services to their customers, adding legitimacy to an asset that Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger once characterized as “contrary to the interests of civilization.”
There’s no denying the fact that Bitcoin is one of the greatest, if not the greatest invention in the modern financial industry. This cryptocurrency managed to make all regular payment methods look obsolete. Not only that, but thanks to its user-orientated approach, this cryptocurrency is well-accepted by the public and even though many governments deem it as an outlaw currency, they are still using it.
Bitcoin is inherently traceless, a quality that made it the ideal currency for facilitating drug trade on the burgeoning internet black market. It was the equivalent of digital cash, a self-governing system of commerce that preserved the anonymity of its owner.