April 21, 2024

A trove of email correspondence between Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, and early collaborator Martti Malmi has come to light, unveiling a cache of historical insights into the seminal cryptocurrency’s origins.


  • Newly published emails show Satoshi didn’t invent the term “cryptocurrency” and wanted to downplay Bitcoin’s anonymity
  • Satoshi foresaw the risks of misinformation around anonymity enabling backlash if not properly managed
  • Emails reveal Satoshi’s concerns over central banks breaching public trust via currency debasement
  • Satoshi highlights how assets with finite supply tend to be used as money, with value perception mattering more than utility
  • Contradictions between emails and Wright’s claims, like incorrectly recalling details about Malmi, cast further doubt on his Satoshi assertions

First referenced in the contentious Kleiman v Wright lawsuit to discredit Craig Wright’s claims of being Satoshi, the messages were publicly released by Malmi on GitHub last week. Spanning over 100 pages from Bitcoin’s formative months in 2009, these private exchanges open a unique portal into the ideations, motivations and early technical workings integral to the protocol’s initial success.

Per one particular email from June 2009, Satoshi confirms not having coined the term “cryptocurrency” himself when asking Malmi if it appropriately describes Bitcoin’s digital, decentralized nature. This discovery dispels prevailing assumptions that Satoshi was sole progenitor of the now-ubiquitous descriptor.

The correspondence also demonstrates Satoshi’s keen awareness of the fine line between anonymity and pseudonymity regarding Bitcoin even over a decade ago. Emphasizing the need for transparency around privacy limitations to avoid backlash, he advises against positioning Bitcoin as “automatically anonymous” given user identities can still be deciphered via transaction analysis.

This prescient concern over misrepresenting anonymity echoes through to today, with regulated entities in crypto now mandated to collect customer information during transactions. Satoshi further predicted advanced blockchain surveillance would unravel previously hidden data patterns, necessitating caution around setting inaccurate privacy expectations.

Additional insights relate to Satoshi’s worries around central banks breaching public trust through wanton currency debasement over history, contrasted against Bitcoin’s verifiable scarcity. He underlines how assets with finite supply tended to evolve into money, with a currency’s success relying more so on perception of value rather than mere utility.

On Bitcoin being traded as an investment, Satoshi was markedly conservative, asking Malmi to remove suggestions to that effect owing to legal considerations. This indicates Satoshi’s intention to position Bitcoin as a decentralized commodity rather than a speculative asset, sidestepping the complex securities law compliance landscape.

The messages also capture behind-the-scenes discussions on founding Bitcoin’s inaugural exchange with Satoshi advising on technical architecture, while highlighting his insistence on avoiding unnecessary complexity that could hamper early user uptake.

Other salient topics include candid debates around the environmental impact of mining, the inevitability of rising transaction fees as adoption grows, and the possibility for Bitcoin’s timestamped data to enable future use cases.

While the emails offer no obvious clues to Satoshi’s real-world alter-ego, experts believe inconsistencies between the exchanges and Wright’s past recollection of details undermine his claims as Bitcoin’s creator.

For proponents though, the substantive glimpse into Nakamoto’s philosophy and pragmatism provided by these long-lost messages sufficiently enhances the Satoshi legend.

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