The man who created Bitcoin’s user interface and performed its first-ever transaction says he is not at all worried about the U.S. government’s seizure of another digital currency service.
In an interview from his home in Finland, Martti Malmi, who goes by who goes by ‘Sirius’ online, told us that since Bitcoin is just a program, not an actual corporation, it can never be shut down. Earlier this week, U.S. authorities charged executives at Liberty Reserve, a combination digital currency purveyor and wire transfer service, with running a massive money laundering scheme.
Malmi says authorities could even go after Bitcoin Foundation, Bitcoin’s non-profit custodian, and the currency would survive.
“It’s just one way to distribute the program,” he said. “If [Bitcoin.org] got shut down, the program could be distributed in some way like torrent files. It’s not a point of failure for the system, just a distribution channel.”
Bitcoin prices have stabilised of late after spiking in March, but Malmi said said there are a range of events that could cause prices to surge again. More large companies like Paypal could start accepting the currency, or more large countries taking a greater interest. By one count, China now comprises the lion’s share of Bitcoin software download destinations.
Ironically, as Bitcoin has become more popular, Malmi, 24, has grown bored with working on it.
“I think it was more exciting when nobody knew about it,” he said. “Now it’s mainstream, it has lots of very skilled developers, so I can do same as Satoshi and move on to other projects.”
Malmi is now working on a project called Identifi, which would provide more credible personal data to reputation-dependent services like ebay (as his mission statement puts it, Identi would create incentives to “not be a butthead.”) He’s also employed by web developer SC5.
It’s likely no one has ever come closer to Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of the person credited with inventing Bitcoin, than Malmi. As a computer science student in Helsinki in 2009, Malmi began looking into the possibilities of a decentralized, unregulated currency, and just happened to discover Nakamoto’s paper laying out Bitcoin’s parameters. He got in touch — eventually exchanging “100 emails” with him — but never actually learned Satoshi’s real identity.
Whoever Satoshi really is, Malmi said, he will probably never reveal himself, and that we should all stop caring who he is.
“He just doesn’t want to be in spotlight, he wants to go on with his job and his other projects. He maybe saw possible the significance, the political implications, and didn’t want any pressure.”
“Maybe on his deathbed.”