For a crypto advocate, New Year’s Eve is not only the celebration of the start of a new year — just a couple of days later, on Jan. 3, a significant anniversary occurs. On Jan. 3, 2009, pseudonymous Bitcoin (BTC) creator Satoshi Nakamoto mined the genesis block — the Bitcoin network’s first-ever block.
The genesis block contained 50 BTC, the block reward at the time.
The wallet would remain untouched until a trend emerged within the crypto community where crypto advocates would transfer BTC to the wallet as a tribute to Nakamoto.
Bitcoin transfer a complete mystery
As the donations mounted over the years, the total balance of the genesis wallet climbed to 68.56 BTC by Jan. 3, 2023, worth almost $1.1 million at the time.
Two days later, the crypto community was shocked when someone transferred 26.9 BTC to the wallet, worth $1.17 million at the time,
No one has claimed the mysterious BTC transfer, which is immutable — meaning it cannot be reversed — piquing the curiosity of the crypto community.
Either Satoshi woke up, bought 27 bitcoin from Binance, and deposited into their wallet, or someone just burned a million dollars pic.twitter.com/w34kjnAHPJ
— Conor (@jconorgrogan) January 6, 2024
Was Nakamoto sending a message? Many theories emerged to explain the transfer.
Fat finger mistake
At first, a mistaken transfer was one of the most believable explanations for the mysterious Bitcoin transfer.
Fat fingering is a common occurrence in the cryptocurrency space. This term implies that users send cryptocurrencies to the wrong address due to mistakes while entering the recipient’s address.
The genesis wallet address could also have been saved in the whitelist wallet address book on Binance, as random users send BTC to the genesis wallet each year as a tribute.
If it were a manual mistake, the sender would have had to copy and paste the incorrect address into Binance and confirm the details at least twice before sending the funds.
Crypto observers have widely disregarded the fat finger hypothesis for the mysterious BTC transfer.
Calculated allocation as a tribute to Nakamoto
Rodolfo Adragnes, founder of ONG Bitcoin Argentina — a nongovernmental organization promoting decentralized tech — believes that the transfer was a calculated donation from a crypto whale as a tribute to Nakamoto’s creation. But why 26.9 BTC? Adragnes told Cointelegraph:
“Someone decided to send 0.1% of their holdings as a way of thanking Satoshi and Bitcoin for existing.”
This would mean that the owner of the Bitcoin had at least 26,917 BTC in their possession.
The total BTC donated was well over $1 million, but in Adragnes’ opinion, a donation of 0.1% is a psychological number for a crypto whale that wouldn’t make a dent in their crypto holdings.
The crypto whale wouldn’t feel “either richer or poorer” after that transfer, Adragnes added.
Twisted debt settlement owed to Craig Wright
The crypto community on X (formerly Twitter) has never lacked imagination. For Bitcoin enthusiast Pledditor, the transfer could have been simply a twisted debt settlement.
My theory for why 26.9 #BTC was sent to Satoshi:
I think someone (probably nChain) who doesn’t like Craig Wright, owes him money, but instead of wiring him a check, just sent it to the bitcoin address he “claims” to control to troll him https://t.co/7QrsrFzkY5
— Pledditor #FixTheFilters (@Pledditor) January 8, 2024
Craig Wright has been claiming he is the creator of Bitcoin since 2016, and Nakamoto is the only person with private keys to the genesis wallet.
Therefore, if Wright’s claims are valid, he could access the wallet. Any payment wired to the genesis wallet would be like paying him directly.
The general consensus of the crypto community about Wright’s claims is that they are false. Therefore, if the sender were in debt to Wright, the BTC transfer was one of the most expensive trolls ever.
Encrypted message of a future Bitcoin prediction
What if the transfer conveys a prediction about the future of Bitcoin?
Bitcoin mining expert Alejandro de la Torre told Cointelegraph, ”Maybe someone or some people are hinting as to what the next bear market floor will be.”
He believes that $26,900 may be the next Bitcoin bear market floor.
Like hash predictions, the transfer could be a new way of encrypting a message. Afterward, the owner of the sent BTC could use the blockchain to prove it made the prediction years before.
Expensive spot Bitcoin ETF marketing scheme
One of the first to detect the Bitcoin transfer was Coinbase director Conor Grogan, who guessed that the transfer could be some weird marketing scheme for the spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which were awaiting approval in the United States at the time.
Maybe some sort of weird ETF marketing scheme? ♂️
— Conor (@jconorgrogan) January 6, 2024
It would have been an expensive marketing ploy if this was the case. As some X users remarked, it wouldn’t be very effective, as the target audience of the spot Bitcoin ETFs is unlikely to care about activity in the genesis wallet.
Donation for everyone
Many users were infuriated that someone would send such a significant amount of money to the genesis wallet instead of a charitable cause.
I don’t get it…
— SF – Le Pleb Royale, with cheese | artdesignbySF (@LePlebRoyale) January 6, 2024
It’s believed that Nakamoto has no access to the genesis wallet, so sending BTC to this address is like burning coins or losing a seed phrase.
Nonetheless, if the person behind the transfer supported Nakamoto’s beliefs, they could have viewed the transfer as a donation to the whole Bitcoin community. As Nakamoto once said:
“Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone.”
The crypto community may never know the purpose of the mysterious million-dollar Bitcoin transfer to the genesis wallet, but at least it has fueled some speculation and debate in the crypto community.