The $6 Billion Mystery

Someone is sitting on nearly $6 billion in Bitcoin, and savvy investigators think it may be the creator of the digital currency.

Bitcoin first came to notice in 2009 when someone who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto announced that he had created a digital currency format that did not require the participation of banks or any other centralized agencies to handle either the currency or transactions.

bitcoinEverything would be handled through a decentralized networks of computers running software designed to handle the transactions and to thwart potential fraud.  While many computers had a piece of each transaction, none had all of it.

This allowed people to send money anonymously, and made it impossible to track transactions, and the currency soon became popular among tech fans, fans of paranoia, and people who legitimately had something to hide.

The original currency was quite inexpensive.  After all, no one knew what to do with it and no one had any mechanism for actually using Bitcoin to pay for things.  As such, the value of Bitcoin was initially a fraction of a U.S. cent, as the value of anything is only what people believe it to be.

When your currency can’t buy anything, it isn’t worth much.

Unlike real currency, which can be printed at will by government entities, Bitcoin is different.  The amount of Bitcoins that can ever be produced is finite, and the number that can be produced in any given year decreases with time.   Furthermore, the mathematical calculations required to generate a new Bitcoin have grown more complex with time, meaning that more time elapses between the creation of a new Bitcoin and the creation of the next one.

That means that people who acquired Bitcoins early on were not only able to get them inexpensively, but were able to acquire them quite easily.  It only stands to reason that the person or persons who created the software that generated Bitcoins would also have access to the coins early on in their history.

Nakamoto disappeared in 2010, and no one is really sure if Satoshi Nakamoto was his real name, if he was really Japanese, or if he really existed at all.  He might have been a single person, he might have been multiple people, and he might have even been a corporation.

Whoever he is/was, he was secretive, and to this day, his identity is unknown to the public at large.

What is known, however, is that one person or entity is sitting on 580,000 Bitcoins right now.  At current market prices, these are worth nearly $6 billion.  This became known when a cryptocurrency expert named Sergio Lerner traced the earliest creation of Bitcoins and noticed that one person seemed to have been involved in 19,600 transactions that generated 50 Bitcoins each.

Nothing has been done with those Bitcoins since they were “mined” in 2010. They’re just sitting there.

Lerner believes that had these Bitcoins been mined by someone other than the creator of the system, that whomever had them would have “cashed out” a long time ago.   After all, no one knew early on if the currency would succeed, and if someone earned thousands of them at a fraction of a penny each, they might have been happy to cash them out when the value of the currency reached parity with the U.S. dollar.

That would have been more than a half a million dollars, and many people would have been happy with that.  That someone is still sitting on them when the value of a single Bitcoin is now approaching $6000 suggests that whomever has them is a true believer in the system.

Perhaps in time we’ll find out who has them…