Bitcoin Drama

The New Yorker’s Joshua Davis Attempts to Identify Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

satoshi

The New Yorker has a great story in its upcoming issue about Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency still trucking along after a glorious rise in value to $33 USD due to a spate of media-driven attention followed by a plunge to about $5 USD, where it stands now. The writer, Joshua Davis, attempted to find Bitcoin’s creator, the probably pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, who after years of prolific postings on the internet wrote to Bitcoin project lead Gavin Andresen in April that he had “moved on to other things.”

“He’s a world-class programmer, with a deep understanding of the C++ programming language,” Dan Kaminsky, one of the country’s top internet security experts, said of Mr. (or Ms.) Nakamoto. “He understands economics, cryptography and peer-to-peer networking. Either there’s a team of people who worked on this, or this guy is a genius.”

Mr. Davis started following Mr. Nakamoto’s trail of online writing, and noticed that, after an initial post announcing Bitcoin that used American spelling, the programmer used the British spelling, referred to London newspapers and at one point using the phrase “bloody hard”–suggesting he had lived or studied in the U.K. or Ireland.

Mr. Davis headed to the close-knit cryptography conference Crypto 2011 to find more traces of Nakamoto. He found nine attendees who fit the bill. Two were dismissive of Bitcoin; two had no history with large software projects. Then Mr. Davis started looking into a man named Michael Clear. Read More

It's All About the Bitcoins

Despite Cyberattacks and Overspeculation, Bitcoin Economy Continues to Evolve

bitcoin banner

Bitcoin has been trading at the depressed price of between $6 and $7 USD for the past few weeks, which seems bad for the once high-flying digital currency that had climbed to $33 USD at one point. Hardly a week has gone by without some extreme crisis. In addition, New Yorker finance columnist James Surowiecki, wrote a long treatment of Bitcoin for the MIT Technology Review in which he notes pessimistically that “the number of actual transactions conducted in bitcoins, and the value of those transactions, has been shrinking.” Read More

It's All About the Bitcoins

Bitcoin as a More Socially Responsible Alternative to Gold

liberty gold

“Gold’s current price of almost $1900 will certainly mean more abuse, corruption, militarization and the erosion of indigenous rights around the world,” writes anti-gold bug Sakura Saunders, the co-founder and editor of ProtestBarrick.net, a campaign against the gold mining company Barrick Gold, the world’s largest pure gold mining company, which ProtestBarrick claims is guilty of human rights violations and environmental destruction in the course of doing business. The activist group has decided to throw its weight behind Bitcoin as a more socially-conscious alternative to gold. Read More

8-Bit Traders

Bored With Bitcoin? BitInstant Is About to Goose the Market By Making Trading Faster

Wake me up when the markets move.

The Bitcoin markets have been sleepy over the past week or two, and Bitcoin traders are starting to whine. What happened to the drama of hacks, the excitement of skyrocketing prices? The biggest news out of the weekend’s Bitcoin World Conference and Expo was that the organizers teased future conferences in Thailand and Amsterdam. “As fun as it was, seems there were no great world-shattering announcements that would affect the world of bitcoin in the near future,” one Bitcoiner who was present told Betabeat. “Other than more conventions as announced by Bruce.” On the Bitcoin Forum at bitcointalk.org, user tacotime wrote: “Well, someone buy or sell a bajillion BTC and do something, it’s boring as hell right now out there.”

But the Bitcoin markets may soon pick up again as a Bitcoin start-up launching later today, in partnership with one of the better-known exchanges, is likely to encourage a new crop of casual traders and the Bitcoin-curious.  Read More

8-Bit Traders

Bitcoin Enthusiasts Gather in NYC to Meet IRL and Show Off Bitcoin Start-Ups

Gavin Andreson, technical lead for the Bitcoin project, speaking in New York on Saturday.

Bitcoin, the sophisticated three-year old digital currency that recently spread from hackers and programmers to a less-technical set, continues to fascinate.

Bitcoin enthusiasts headed to New York this weekend for the first Bitcoin World Conference and Expo in east Midtown, an event comprised of networking; workshops on mining and coding; showcasing of Bitcoin start-ups; announcements of future Bitcoin conferences in Thailand, Amsterdam as well as a Bitcoin cruise in 2013; meals at restaurants that accept Bitcoin; and talks by e-currency luminaries including Gavin Andresen, the technical lead for the Bitcoin project.

About 75 people, all but a handful of them male, gathered this weekend in east Midtown at the Roosevelt Hotel and at the studios of OnlyOneTV, which produces the web show The Bitcoin Show and organized the conference.

Attendees included representatives from Mt. Gox, the largest exchange which is based in Japan; TradeHill, the second-largest exchange; CampBX, a Georgia-based exchange, who lost their luggage on the flight; along with a host of other Bitcoin businesses. About a third of the audience were miners; about a fourth said they’d heard of Bitcoin before it was cool since November. Attendees wondered if the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, the purported and potentially pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin who last contacted Mr. Andresen by email in April, was among them. Read More

Bitcoin Drama

Search for Owners of MyBitcoin Loses Steam

bitcoin530

Energy has flagged in the hunt for the people behind MyBitcoin.com, the popular e-wallet service that disappeared with, according to them, 154,406 Bitcoins back in early August. After days of silence, a spokesman emerged for the site and a claims process was initiated to refund users 49 percent of their deposits, which in today’s prices shakes out to $861,755.

But that still leaves 78,747 BTC ($896,929 USD at today’s prices), which MyBitcoin’s spokesman says were taken by hackers, unaccounted for. Read More

New Money

You Can Now Buy Bitcoin With Cash at Any Chase or Wells Fargo

exchblogo

The Redwood City-headquartered ExchB, founded in May 2011, just started accepting cash and check payments via brick-and-mortar banks to speed up the sometimes-lengthy process of crediting an account with USD in order to buy BTC. “ExchB customers can walk up to any of over 15,000 locations nationwide and make a cash deposit at any Chase or Wells Fargo branch,” president David Sterry wrote last week. “Simply walk up to the teller, deposit your cash or check, and e-mail us an image of your receipt. Cash clears when we verify your e-mail and check deposits typically clear overnight.” Read More

Bitcoin Drama

MyBitcoin Spokesman Finally Comes Forward: “What Did You Think We Did After the Hack? We Got Shitfaced”

question mark face

The popular Bitcoin transaction processor that disappeared from the internet about 10 days ago, taking at least tens of thousands of Bitcoins in user deposits with it, has been communicating via statements posted to the site. In essence: We screwed up. We were hacked. We have enough BTC to refund some of the lost Bitcoins, and then we’re done. “It appears to be human error combined with a misunderstanding of how Bitcoin secures transactions into the next block,” the most recent statement says by way of explanation.

Some members of the Bitcoin community suspect foul play (more about that later). But as promised, there is now a claims form for users who lost Bitcoins in the debacle: “Claims are manually reviewed and will be processed within 48 hours of being filed. This claim form will remain online for 30 days.”

And as of Saturday night, the historically-reticent MyBitcoin has a voice: “Tom Williams,” who stepped forward to field questions from the Bitcoin community via the #bitcoin-police channel on IRC, where he verified his association with the site by moving Bitcoins from the MyBitoin IP to a pre-specified address and providing the same encrypted signature that was used to sign the official statements posted on MyBitcoin.

After passing muster with the tech-savvy denizens of #bitcoin-police, a loosely-organized group of Bitcoin enthusiasts who investigate various issues in the Bitcoin community, Mr. Williams got down to tacks. “Listen: what did you think we did after the hack happened? We got shitfaced for many days. What would you do? Fuck.” Read More

Paying Crimes

MyBitcoin.com Is Back: A Week After Vanishing With at Least $250 K. Worth of BTC, Site Claims It Was Hacked

mybitcoin

Who is Tom Williams? MyBitcoin.com, which disappeared without explanation from the internet about a week ago, is back up with a messages “From the desk of Tom Williams, operator of MyBitcoin.com.” The statement, labeled an “incident report,” is the only live page on the site. MyBitcoin noticed a large amount of BTC missing, the statement says, realized its security had been breached, and pulled the site immediately. After investigating the hack, the statement says, the “we” behind MyBitcoin realized it was bankrupt and “would have to go into receivership.” There will be a claims process for reimbursing users, the statement says.

We’re not exactly sure what constitutes receivership in a system with no central authority, or why the site’s anonymous operators would feel obligated to refund its anonymous users given the utter lack of accountability. Before the statement hit, word on the street was that MyBitcoin.com, the user-friendly Bitcoin wallet that was the go-to for most Bitcoin newbies, was an elaborate ploy set up by a group of (Canadian?) hackers who swindled naive Bitcoin users for the money and the lulz. At the time it went down, MyBitcoin.com had more deposits than the third largest Bitcoin exchange, Bitomat.pl. Bitomat.pl had 17,000 BTC on hand when it went down this weekend due to human technical error. But just one Bitcoin user, the vocal Bruce Wagner, had 25,000 BTC stored at MyBitcoin when it disappeared. Betabeat had 6 BTC there, and we’re surely not the only ones. At today’s prices, MyBitcoin had more than $250,000 in its coffers. Read More