It should go without saying: it’s unlikely that the credit for the invention of Bitcoin goes to a single person. Craig Wright may be Satoshi Nakamoto, but how much of the Blockchain technology is owed to him?
We already know, if the investigation brought over by Wired and Gizmodo is based on valid proof, that Craig worked with a team (“some good coders on this”). But was he the one who conceived the blockchain idea?
Alternative forms of currency are not a new idea.
Precursors Of Blockchain?
As Stephen DeMeulenaere, working in the field of Complementary Currency Systems since 1991 and founder of the website ComplementaryCurrency.org explains, Mutual Credit is an old methodology still, that can date at least as back as 1934, when the Swiss bank WIR was founded, and is still in use by issuing currency in Mutual Credit between businesses.
Stephen is not a programmer but worked as a Complementary Currency Designer, researcher and promoter and is involved in several projects like Social Trade and the Cyclos payment platform, which pre-dates Bitcoin and won the grand prize at Transact 14.
“Mutual Credit is an old methodology that allows people to give each other credit within a closed network. All transactions are made public, and are potentially reversible.”
While in the Bitcoin system transactions are not reversible, by design, they are traceable, and implementing a possibility of reversal would be trivial.
“In Mutual Credit Systems, because members are giving themselves the right to issue personal currency within a network economy, and in return willing to accept the personal currency created by others, a basic rule is that all members have the right to know the balance and turnover of another member. There was no identity secrecy. Therefore, the transaction ledger is always open and available for anyone to see. Before computers, transactions were handwritten in a ledger book, and anyone could come to the office to see the transactions if they wanted to. This is the same concept as the Blockchain.
In a manual accounting system, a company would require bookshelves of binders holding transactions. An economy run this way, with all transactions between everyone having to be recorde, would be impractical, and large Mutual Credit systems ran into this problem. Blockchain technology solves this problem.”
Twenty Years Of Conceptualization
Stephen recalls the effort in developing a P2P exchange system and asserts these projects were the basis of the Blockchain technology:
“While the reality was that the technology was not capable of delivering a true Peer-to-Peer currency exchange platform, we were working with that goal in mind from the beginning. We had the concept, but the solution seemed far away. The financial cryptographers, however, were starting to succeed, and they soon had the basic elements together, and this is what was put together to create Bitcoin.”
There are different ways that can be taken to create IT solutions. For small projects, you usually have a coder (or a team) that wraps his mind around a problem and codes the solution, but for some situations and complex, unusual tasks, transferring the needs for the solution to the coder is difficult. Here is where Stephen came in:
“I was one of those CC (Complementary Currency) experts out there designing and implementing systems but we could not program. So we shared our economic and monetary vision with the programmers.”
Development Was Kept Secret In The Internet Underground
At one point in time, Stephen was almost entering the underground movement at the very base of the development.
“We had a public discussion group on complementary currencies, digital currencies and elementary financial cryptography through 2003, which died off by 2004 and went to a private secure discussion. As I was not a programmer and busy with my complementary currency organization and projects in Southeast Asia, I declined to participate in that group.”
Stephen assumes that, from the recent available data, Craig Wright can very well be the one who brought the Blockchain technology to completion:
“Craig, from what we're reading, held strong Libertarian ideas and wanted to develop a monetary software platform that could achieve those goals.
I also see him as a business man that managed to take the parts and put them together in working order. He is clearly a genius, and usually being a genius and good in business don't mix, but he has also achieved that.
I think that he does acknowledge others for the realization of Bitcoin. He appears to have had a great deal of foresight and made detailed efforts to obscure his identity, and in doing so, he helped protect others who were also involved. What is very important to be clear about here is that it really was not about the money, in FIAT money terms. It was about introducing a new, decentralized and competitive method of currency issuance.
However, I also think that if he patented the system, it would have failed. At the time of the genesis block I don't think he was 100% sure that it would succeed as immensely as it has.
I would agree with the idea that concepts that were already under development for many years prior to Bitcoin, were assembled and developed into a finished but still proof-of-concept product. As we know, the Bitcoin Protocol has been nearly completely rewritten.”
Not A Single Hero, But A Company Of Heroes
The global picture is showing us a group of people that worked for at least two decades in an effort to create a new universal form of currency that would disrupt the existing millenary one, and only with the advent of internet they begun to see a solution to the problem.
In conclusion, Stephen DeMeulenaere thinks that the merit of Satoshi Nakamoto (whoever he is, Craig Wright or anyone else) in the creation of Bitcoin should be resized, and a team of “modern Robin Hoods” is probably a more fitting subject for the trophy:
“If Craig Wright is Satoshi, he was likely involved in one of the groups of financial cryptographers who were working to take these monetary concepts and turn them into software that couldn't be challenged by banks or governments. So like the designer of an engine, he would have many people to credit with helping to design the various parts.”
However, we are surely not stopping to praise Satoshi Nakamoto right out of the blue, we are rather adding another bunch more of valiant people to our room of holy figures.
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