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The reasons why Bitcoin developers choose to use pseudonyms

A sizable portion of Bitcoin developers opted to use pseudonyms for various reasons.

Image by Miloslav Hamřík from Pixabay

Wed, 01 Jul 2020, 05:37 am UTC

There’s an ongoing trend within the cryptocurrency space and in the Bitcoin sphere in particular. While there are developers who use their real names, a sizable portion opted to use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons.

One of the reasons why Bitcoin developers use pseudonyms is safety. Fiatjaf, a Bitcoin developer in the Lightning community who lives in Brazil, fears that he could be painting a target on his and his family members’ backs if he reveals his real identity, according to Coindesk.

“I think in Brazil criminals are greater than in other places,” Fiatjaf said. “Local criminals might want to take my bitcoin. They’d see my name and think, ‘Oh this guy is a local guy, not using any special precautions. He may be very rich because he’s using bitcoins.'”

Fiatjaf is part of a larger trend where those working within the Bitcoin sphere who opted to conceal their real names. Aside from safety concerns, the wide use of pseudonyms can be viewed as part of Bitcoin’s culture with its emphasis on privacy.

It’s actually started by Bitcoin’s creator who chose not to reveal his real identity and is known only by the moniker Satoshi Nakamoto. After releasing the Bitcoin software in 2010, Nakamoto suddenly disappeared after regularly posting on the Bitcoin forums in 2011.

“Being able to minimize what other people know about you is literally the theme of the first paragraph of the Bitcoin white paper,” a Bitcoin researcher, who goes by the pseudonym 0xB10C, said.

Many Bitcoin researchers are hard at work in improving the privacy of the token. “Privacy should be a basic human right,” a Lightning developer who uses the named ZmnSCPxj said. “As I am, in fact, a basic human of indeterminate detail, I would like to exercise that right.”

ZmnSCPxj is an active member of the Lightning mailing list and has made several proposals related to privacy. He receives funding for his Bitcoin development from Square Crypto.

Aside from privacy, some developers view pseudonyms as an extra layer of protection. “What we’re doing is going to offend *someone*,” Samourai Wallet, whose two founders use pseudonyms, told CoinDesk. “That could be from competitors or angry people online who feel that we’re a threat, to — whoever.”

Anonymity comes in handy for those who live in locations where their governments are not too friendly with cryptocurrencies and blockchain. “There is always a possibility of Bitcoin becoming unpopular with some government, thus it is always safer to simply avoid possible conflicts with local governments by making it unclear who exactly I am,” a developer called ZmnSCPxj said. “Alternately, it may become too popular, and the government might want to acquire more of it by other means.”

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