The former chief technology officer of Ripple has lost the password to the digital wallet on his hard drive containing $240 million worth of Bitcoin.
Stefan Thomas reportedly only has two password input attempts out of ten possible before his cryptocurrency wallet is locked forever.
According to reports, Thomas had transferred 7,002 Bitcoins to his cryptocurrency wallet in 2010 for the purpose of creating a video on how the Blockchain and digital currency transfers work. During that time, the Bitcoins were only worth a few dollars.
Thomas stored the Bitcoin in a cryptocurrency wallet called IronKey, which was placed on one of his hard drives. He reportedly wrote the password to the wallet on a piece of paper, which he can no longer find.
Fast forward to today, and Thomas' bitcoins are now worth more than $240 million. Thomas told reporters that he had already made eight attempts and now only has two attempts left before the wallet "encrypts itself," which would make it "impossible to access."
The former head of Facebook security, Alex Stamos, had reportedly offered to help Thomas unlock the digital wallet. He said on social media that he was willing to go through the difficult process of unlocking the wallet for a 10% cut.
"Um, for $220M in locked-up Bitcoin, you don't make 10 password guesses but take it to professionals to buy 20 IronKeys and spend six months finding a side-channel or uncapping. I'll make it happen for 10%. Call me," Stamos said in a post on social media.
According to cryptocurrency data company Chain Analysis, there is currently about $140 billion worth of Bitcoins that have been "lost" - either due to inaccessible digital wallets or lost keys. Reports of lost bitcoins have repeatedly popped up, including a report of a man losing 800 bitcoins after his colleague reformatted his work laptop without his permission.
Thomas said in a post that his dilemma has caused him to question the practicality of Bitcoins. He said that the idea of being your own bank presents a unique issue.
"The whole idea of being your own bank - let me put it this way, do you make your own shoes? The reason we have banks is that we don't want to deal with all those things that banks do," Thomas said.