Time moves at a different pace within the cryptocurrency industry. Despite Bitcoin (BTC) existing for less than a decade, it has had a monumental impact on digital currency and the global economy. Cryptocurrency is here to stay – in one form or another – and the electricity required to mine Bitcoin directly impacts entire cities. Yet in the bigger picture, the relatively brief lifespan of Bitcoin means that there are still mysterious actors that can crop up at any time.
The formative years of Bitcoin consisted of shady dark web dealings and people buying in and out on a lark. As such, there are major wallets that contain market-breaking levels of Bitcoin. These wallets have shown no activity in years, suggesting that they are either completely forgotten or under a deep freeze. Containing hundreds of thousands of BTC, a sell-off could devastate the market for years to come. These crypto-leviathans were not a concern for the average investor – until one woke up.
Suspected Silk Road Wallet
Under intense scrutiny by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, there is a single anonymous wallet that holds more than 100,000 BTC. Last active in 2014, the wallet is suddenly distributing BTC to other wallets and exchanges – a potentially dangerous move for the market as a whole. No one is certain who the wallet belongs to, but amateur crypto-forensics led many to believe it may be a wallet associated with the now-defunct Silk Road network.
Silk Road existed from 2011 to 2014 as a dark web marketplace for everything illegal. Users traded guns and drugs for Bitcoin – and the marketplace thrived. Ultimately, the marketplace collapsed – bringing down both the team that led it, and a variety of corrupt government officials. If this slumbering wallet belongs to someone associated with the Silk Road, it would be hard to see their actions as anything but nefarious.
A defining moment in the history of cryptocurrency, the Mt.Gox incident threatened to collapse the entire industry. Nearly 1,000,000 BTC was lost in the aftermath of a major hack. While 200,000 of these Bitcoin were later located in an owner’s cold storage, the rest have still not been found. While the price of Bitcoin was much lower than it is now, it still tanked considerably after the announcement. Mt.Gox had served as easily the largest exchange up until that time – and the incident shattered investor confidence.
Now, a trustee wallet established in the legal aftermath of the incident contains the ‘located’ 200,000 BTC. Ostensibly, the wallet exists to liquidate the cryptocurrency in order to pay legal settlements – but no one is eager to drop that volume of Bitcoin into the open market. As such, a measured approach is critical – and sometimes mistakes are made and the sell-off adversely affects Bitcoin’s market value.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s Personal Wallet
The creator of Bitcoin, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, also possesses a wallet. Satoshi exists in near legend, no longer communicating and never touching this wallet. Although several have claimed to be the enigmatic founder, none have thus far offered any substantial proof. Despite this, random users continue to drop additional Bitcoin into the address associated with Satoshi through the Genesis Block.
In the process of creating, testing and securing the Bitcoin blockchain, Satoshi produced over a million Bitcoin. While he has shown no sign of opening his wallet, the fact exists that a single entity controls a major percent of the total supply of Bitcoin. Luckily, Satoshi knows more than anyone what impact his selling could have on the market. So long as he does not decide to crater the industry, cryptocurrency should remain safe.
By: Adam Stone