The cryptocurrency community is filled with speculation over whether Charlie Lee, the founder of the popular alternative currency Litecoin, is also Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of the leading alternative currency Bitcoin. Rumors began circulating after an MIT website displayed a countdown for a project featuring Litecoin. Details regarding the project are still vague, but the prominent Litecoin logo was enough to generate the origins of this conspiracy theory.
Reddit, the widely popular open forum, was the original source of the theory. User Jaw709 compiled his arguments into a post, the main one involving Charlie Lee’s Twitter handle. Lee’s original handle was “X” and then changed to “SatoshiLite” upon Litecoin’s creation. While completely speculative, the post has garnered some feedback, even from Lee himself. Jaw709 goes on to list some possibilities as to how Lee and Nakamoto could be one in the same.
Apparently, Lee’s Twitter handle changed after Litecoin hit the market in 2011. One of Jaw709’s theories is that Lee was part of the original crew behind Bitcoin and had a bit of a falling out with them. This falling out prompted Lee to begin his own research into cryptocurrencies, which eventually led to the introduction of Litecoin. Another possible theory is that Lee created both Bitcoin and Litecoin but decided to shift his focus to Litecoin when it emerged (hence the Twitter handle change). Jaw709’s last proposed theory is that Litecoin was the first name given to what would become Bitcoin, but the prefix “lite” did not fit the model as well as “bit” did for the digital currency form. Litecoin was then later introduced as a personal project of Lee’s.
What does this mean for the cryptocurrency world? Not much. If this conspiracy theory were proven true, it would mean two competing alternative currency forms were born of the same mind. This is not too farfetched to think, and it would be a smart business move to control two of the largest cryptocurrencies available—in fact, Litecoin has recently shown a positive trajectory that could put it above Bitcoin as the preferred digital currency form. The rumors did not affect the value of the cryptocurrencies, and ecommerce businesses such as online gambling sites that allow users to deposit with Litecoin were financially unaffected by the rumors as well.
One key factor to notice is that the two alternative currency forms operate differently, and the two founders are believed to be split on the integration of SegWit—a proposed update that would fix some scalability and transaction malleability issues with cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s Nakamoto is known to be against the integration of SegWit while Lee’s Litecoin has already introduced the solution. If Lee and Nakamoto were the same person, it would mean they could beta SegWit on one of the cryptocurrencies while letting the other run as usual.
The likelihood of this theory is slim, especially since Lee has come out and said he is not Nakamoto. Lee stated that the MIT countdown project could be part of MIT’s lighting program. He also said it could be part of a hoax. Nakamoto has yet to make any sort of official comment on the subject. In any case, even if they were the same person, it would only make for an interesting business venture in the field of alternative currencies. The only problem that could arise if they were found out to be the same person would be if he decided to pull the plug on either Bitcoin or Litecoin.