Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of the person or group of people who invented bitcoin, was publicly nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics on Friday.
"The invention of bitcoin — a digital currency — is nothing short of revolutionary," wrote UCLA professor of finance Bhagwan Chowdhry on The Huffington Post
"Not only will Satoshi Nakamoto's contribution change the way we think about money, it is likely to upend the role central banks play in conducting monetary policy, destroy high-cost money transfer services such as Western Union, eliminate the 2-4 percent transactions tax imposed by intermediaries such as Visa, MasterCard and Paypal, eliminate the time-consuming and expensive notary and escrow services and indeed transform the landscape of legal contracts completely."
Chowdhry said in his announcement that he understands that no one really knows the true identity of Nakamoto. This doesn't mean, however, that the Nobel committee can't communicate with him.
"The usual protocol is that the committee obtains the awardee's telephone number and calls the person to announce that he or she has won," he explained.
"But in this case, no one really knows who is, where he lives, or what his phone number is. But that does not mean he does not exist. He does. He exists online. He can be informed by contacting him online just the same way people have communicated with him in the past and he has anonymously communicated with the computer science and cryptography community. If he accepts the award, he can verifiably communicate his acceptance."
To date, after releasing to the Internet the bitcoin protocol software on Jan. 3, 2009, Nakamoto has released only one communique with the world.
On May 24, 2009, he published a nine-page whitepaper titled, "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System."
The paper describes the usefulness of bitcoin, which is both a store of value — like the U.S. dollar — and also a protocol for transferring money — like a credit card system.
Bitcoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer system. As part of the storage and transfer system, users contribute transaction data to a public ledger called the block chain, which in turn guarantees that the digital currency cannot be fraudulently duplicated or forged.
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