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'Sleeping Whale' Awakens as Unused Bitcoin Wallet Comes Online

Bitcoin
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Someone's been playing the long game. The Independent reported that a Bitcoin wallet last used in May 2010—when the cryptocurrency's pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, was still active in the community—has come back online.

That wallet is said to contain 50 BTC. When it went dormant, those coins were worth less than $4, according to The Independent. Now they're worth roughly $3,130,250. (Based on the $62,605 per-coin price of BTC shared by Coinbase at time of writing.)

It's not clear what prompted the wallet's activity more than 11 years after it went dormant. Maybe it's because the price of Bitcoin has risen by a million percent in that time; perhaps it's because the owner just remembered the wallet's access key.

Either way, the cryptocurrency has changed a lot since the last time this wallet was used. Back then, Bitcoin was something people could mine on their PCs in exchange for 50 BTC a block, which sounds fantastic, except it was also worth basically nothing.

Now mining the cryptocurrency requires incredibly powerful equipment designed specifically for the task, and the block reward is just 6.25 BTC. But Bitcoin is worth tens of thousands of dollars and can be used to buy things other than alpaca socks.

The Independent said that "sleeping whale" wallets—which contain a large amount of BTC and have been inactive for years—collectively hold "several million" BTC. For example, one wallet contains nearly 80,000 bitcoins worth more than $5 billion at current prices.

At least some of that wealth will probably remain dormant because their owners forgot the access keys or, to put it delicately, aren't here to cash in on Bitcoin's price increases. But the activity of this wallet (and two other sleeping whales that have awoken recently) shows at least some of that BTC will be recovered.

  • Co BIY
    The first hacks of the bitcoin system will obviously be targeted at these already identified "sleeping whale" accounts. The owners of many of these likely don't even remember they own them let alone keep track of them. It follows that a hacker could access several of them without detection.

    If many of these "awaken" I'm not sure it's a good sign.
    Reply
  • cuvtixo
    Co BIY said:
    The first hacks of the bitcoin system will obviously be targeted at these already identified "sleeping whale" accounts. The owners of many of these likely don't even remember they own them let alone keep track of them. It follows that a hacker could access several of them without detection.
    If many of these "awaken" I'm not sure it's a good sign.
    FUD
    That's putting the cynical cart before the horse. Even if there was something suspicious (like IDK, circulating crypto through dark markets, or Russia) there would be every reason to first suspect it would be an individual account (or accounts) getting "hacked", not the whole system.
    Bank robbers, for example, never want to bring down the whole system of banks. It's always in the robbers' best interests for banks generally to prosper, and then each individual bank has more money to rob. And "hackers" (whoever you imagine they might be) also would likewise have a lot to lose if the Bitcoin system were to collapse, and if a fundamental flaw in the system were discovered, the price indeed would collapse. It would be killing the goose that lays golden eggs.
    Even the Madoff ponzi scam, only involved $64.8 billion, and that's an estimate by prosecutors who have interest in presenting the largest possible amount. Bitcoin altogether is worth over $745 billion now. This is a hard to imagine amount. Let's just say there are powers who would put literal armies out to defend the stability of the cryptocurrency now.
    It's like worrying about catburglers prowling Fort Knox. (or more specifically, people who have nothing to do with the actual security of Ft. Knox getting they're panties in a bunch about petty criminals infiltrating and getting away with America's gold!) It's silly, even pathetic at this point, to be crying wolf once again about Bitcoin.
    But it's perhaps understandable how people who have lost out badly, because they missed the boat, are going to continue to come up with excuses why their reasoning not to invest was sound. It wasn't. Suit yourself. I've done well on very modest investment. The crypto water is fine, I invite you to come in; or stick your toe in at least!
    Reply
  • derekullo
    Maybe Mr Nakamoto has returned !
    Reply
  • husker
    I'm no expert, but I don't think you can just dump 50 billion worth of a commodity on a market and expect it to still be worth 50 billion. I know crypto "breaks all the rules", but does it really?
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    husker said:
    I'm no expert, but I don't think you can just dump 50 billion worth of a commodity on a market and expect it to still be worth 50 billion. I know crypto "breaks all the rules", but does it really?

    Neither can 50 billion of a "commodity" just be made out of thin air (or pointless electronic math) . No, it doesn't break the rules.

    50 Billion imaginary dollars of hype OTOH could totally disappear instantly.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    cuvtixo said:
    Bank robbers, for example, never want to bring down the whole system of banks. It's always in the robbers' best interests for banks generally to prosper, and then each individual bank has more money to rob. And "hackers" (whoever you imagine they might be) also would likewise have a lot to lose if the Bitcoin system were to collapse, and if a fundamental flaw in the system were discovered, the price indeed would collapse. It would be killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

    This was exactly my point about the "sleeping" accounts. It's a point of attack that is undefended by the individual account holder.

    cuvtixo said:
    But it's perhaps understandable how people who have lost out badly, because they missed the boat, are going to continue to come up with excuses why their reasoning not to invest was sound. It wasn't. Suit yourself. I've done well on very modest investment. The crypto water is fine, I invite you to come in; or stick your toe in at least!

    If your investment is sound you need not be defensive of it.

    If it's a giant bubble of nothing then those who are heavily invested must defend the hype to the utmost.

    I don't see how any Cryptocurrency can defend against competitors. If the "e-currencies" actually become useful as medium of exchange (very little evidence of this happening yet) there is nothing to prevent the creation of an endless series of new currencies because there are no barriers to entry.

    Why will a Bitcoin be valuable in the future ?
    Reply