BitMEX Research Reopens Bitcoin Debate: Did Satoshi Mine One Million Bitcoins in 2009?


Does Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto hold a million bitcoins? Is he the dominant miner who reaped rewards of over 1M BTC?

That has been the debate within the bitcoin community at least since 2013 when the claims first surfaced. It has remained a hot topic, often revisited with variant “facts” surfacing from time to time.

The veracity of Satoshi’s one million BTC is what BitMEX Research, a group of researchers affiliated with the BitMEX cryptocurrency exchange, sought to establish once more.

The research team resurfaced the issue, re-examining old evidence in a bid to find answers to what we can call the one million Bitcoin question.

On August 20, the group of researchers published a report rekindling the debate first brought up in 2013.

At the time, a blockchain expert Sergio Demian Lerner stated that Nakamoto (the individual or group) owned at least one million bitcoins for mining for a year between 2009 and 2010.

In his assertions, Lerner, in a 2013 post suggests that a solo miner (most probably Satoshi himself) had apparently stashed up rewards from block 0 to block 36,288 between January 3, 2009, and January 25, 2010.

If that were to turn out to be true, then the enigmatic Satoshi could be sitting on at least $7.2 billion worth of BTC.

Strong debate

According to the research, Lerner took the debate a notch higher with a post he published on his blog. He explained the dynamics that appeared to point out that only one individual, a group that mined at exactly the same time.

He wrote:

“I can’t assure with 100% certainty that all the black dots are owned by Satoshi, but almost all are owned by a single entity, and that entity began mining right from block 1, and with the same performance as the genesis block.”

But these assertions are not without weaknesses, states the BitMEX Research. According to their research, and as shown in the bitcointalk arguments in 2013, a few people explained that they too had mined bitcoin in 2009.

The report suggests that the technical arguments presented by Lerner could be accurate. However, because some individuals recalled mining at the time, the assertion that Nakamoto solo-mined all that BTC is unconvincing.

BitMEX analysis

The BitMEX team undertook to establish the true picture of the claims concerning Bitcoin’s creator. Their analysis was essentially a repeat of Sergio’s analysis. However, they state that their objective revolved around counting and allocating all the blocks allegedly mined by Satoshi.

The analysis agreed with Lerner’s assertions up to August 2009 but found some weak links after that date.

Based on their research, the BitMEX team counted and allocated a total of 14,815 blocks to the dominant miner. That was equivalent to about 740,750 BTC, less than the 1M Sergio’s analysis put forward.

In their closing remarks, the researchers believe that the one million bitcoin argument was a bit too much. They put the figure somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 bitcoins.

They agree that there was a dominant miner in 2009. However, their conclusion is that the evidence is less robust, contrary to what many within the community have come to assume.

BitMEX Research, therefore, comes to the conclusion that there is no compelling evidence that the solo miner was Satoshi.

“None of the above says much about whether the dominant miner was Satoshi.”

The BitMEX Research leaves out one key detail though: the worth of the dominant miner, whether it’s Satoshi or someone else. What is clear, however, is that Satoshi indeed mined block 9.

The debate is far from over, judging from the interest the latest report has generated. It is possible either way, that the one million bitcoins question may find an answer or forever be part of bitcoin.

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