Two more failed attempts to enter his password and Stefan Thomas will lose all the fortune he has stored in Bitcoins in the cloud, more than US $ 200 million, according to his own calculations.
This San Francisco-based German-born programmer is one of the investors who has seen his cryptocurrency savings skyrocket in recent times.
Although the price of Bitcoin fell sharply this Monday, after the bull run it has maintained in the last eight months, it is still more than 50% higher than a month ago, when it reached a record price of around $ 20,000.
Years ago, Thomas lost the paper in which he wrote down the password with which to unlock his IronKey, the encrypted storage device that contains the keys to access the digital wallet in which he keeps 7,002 bitcoins.
IronKey gives users 10 chances to correctly enter their password before forever locking and encrypting the information inside.
Thomas has already spent eight trying passwords that he remembers using on other devices and websites. And he has no hope in the two remaining attempts.
He told the BBC why he thinks he will never be able to get the money back.
“Bitcoin is a decentralized system, so there is no one to call to get a new password. There are some options that in the future I can recover them physically, but they are really very slim ”.
Actually, he’s resigned long ago.
“The first time I discovered that I had lost the coins, I was shocked. I tried everything”.
That, he says, was nine years ago. “I finally came to accept what had happened. Today I am happy that all I lost was money ”.
At a time when Bitcoin is making headlines and offering unprecedented gains to those who bet on this cryptocurrency, Thomas’ seems to be no exception.
According to estimates from Chainalisis, a consultancy, around 20% of the 18.5 million existing bitcoin accounts belong to holders who lost or forgot the keys and, consequently, cannot access them.
And, according to the “New York Times”, the firm Wallet Recovery Services, dedicated to the recovery of digital wallets, ensures that the demand for its services has tripled in a month.
Many of those who turn to companies of this type are people who acquired bitcoins a decade ago, when not everyone trusted that crypto assets would end up having the success that bitcoin has lately achieved, and who now try to reap the benefits of their investment but not they remember the keys to access it.
Bitcoin had never traded so high, although at the end of 2017 there was a bubble that made it reach almost US $ 20,000, and then lost 45% of its value in just six days.
Now, the interest in this cryptocurrency and its revaluation comes mainly from institutional investors, mainly investment funds, whose clients are familiar with electronic currencies and find in bitcoin a way to diversify the risk in their portfolios and protect their assets.
One of the reasons for this interest is that, with the crisis generated by the pandemic, central banks have intervened in financial markets through the implementation of zero or negative interest rates, the purchase of sovereign debt and the printing of currency.
Investors fear that this monetary policy will lead the economies to a scenario of inflation and currency devaluation.