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If a libertarian utopia were ever to come into being—the Internet can stake a fair claim to being the closest approximation so far—the bitcoin, or something very like it, would be its currency. But even utopia has its problems, as the recent flap over Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym for bitcoin’s founder, showed.
Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright’s inability to substantiate his claim that he was Nakamoto showed the problems inherent in bitcoin. A digital cryptocurrency beholden to no government can be viable only if there is a natural cooperation among the digital community that enables it. After all, the link between trust and value that underpins all currency is closer to the surface here than for any conventional currency.
But the bickering and ruined reputations over Wright’s claim show how fragile that cooperation can be. Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere yet. But this is a warning sign that if it is to grow, it might need some kind of governing structure.