“Here lies the huge irony in this discussion. Persistent pseudonyms aren’t ways to hide who you are. They provide a way to be who you are. You can finally talk about what you really believe; your real politics, your real problems, your real sexuality, your real family, your real self.” — Engineer Kee Hinckley
Fiatjaf is a pseudonymous Bitcoin developer in the Lightning community where he contributes to LNURL. He’s also working on Etleneum, his “centralized Ethereum” app that uses the Lightning Network for faster and more scalable bitcoin payments. Like many other bitcoin users, Fiatjaf doesn’t want to expose his real name to the whole world. He worries his bitcoin software projects could make him and his family a target for criminals.
As a resident of Brazil, where the crime rate is unusually high, Fiatjaf is particularly concerned for his safety. “I think in Brazil criminals are greater than in other places,” he said.
He also worries that if the price of bitcoin skyrockets, or “goes to the moon,” he could be painting a target on his back as a public figure in the Bitcoin space.
“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.'” he said.
Though Fiatjaf doesn’t want to overreact to his safety concerns, he sees the threat of criminal activity in Brazil as enough of a potential peril to adopt a pseudonym as he carries out his work as a bitcoin developer.
Fiatjaf is part of a larger trend that isn’t openly talked about much. He’s one of dozens of developers working in the Bitcoin sphere choosing to conceal their real names.
Cypherpunk roots and pseudonyms
This widespread pseudonymity makes sense seeing as Bitcoin’s culture puts so much emphasis on privacy.
The great mystery of Bitcoin is no one knows the real identity of its creator, who went by th...