In a mishap of epic proportions, a computer programmer is locked out of his bitcoin wallet and might lose $220 million if he enters the wrong password 2 more times. 

Back in the day when people got in early in the bitcoin action, they were paid a lot of bitcoin. Primarily because back then bitcoin wasn’t worth as much as it is today. Stefan Thomas, a German programmer, too was one of those people. He was paid 7,002 bitcoins for his services. Today because of the combination of him being forgetful, and his bad luck, he only has two guesses left to figure out the password that will open the door to riches.

According to reports, Stefan lost the paper where he wrote down the password for his IronKey.  IronKey is a small hard drive that gives its user 10 password guesses before encrypting its content forever. So far Stefan has tried eight of the most commonly used password formulations he has ever had, and all of his attempts have been futile.  

Speaking to The New York Times, Stephan said, “I would just lay in bed and think about it. Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

He has put the IronKey in a secure facility for now saying, “I got to a point where I said to myself, ‘Let it be in the past, just for your own mental health.’” 

Cryptocurrency’s nature of existing virtually means that due to human error, there are people who are locked out of their fortunes. These people are made to watch the price of rising and falling and rising again helplessly. They are unable to cash in on their digital investment and have to live with a strong sense of regret.  

According to Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency data firm, around 20% of the existing 18.5 million bitcoin are lost in stranded wallets. According to Wallet Recovery Services, a business that helps users get access to their lost digital keys, it has gotten 70 requests in a day in January from individuals who are locked out of their wallets. This is three times more than the previous month. 

This issue is a strong reminder of cryptocurrency’s unusual technological identity. Traditional bank accounts and digital wallets like PayPal, Paytm, ApplePay have a system in place through which people can recover their passwords or reset them. But since bitcoin is completely decentralized, meaning, it doesn’t have one particular authority to control it, people can sometimes find themselves to be locked out of their own accounts.   

Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto has said the entire crux of bitcoin lies in the idea to allow anyone in the world to create an account and hold money such that no regulator or private company can interfere in its existence. 

Unfortunately, the system didn’t take into account just how bad can people be at remembering their passwords. Therefore, backers of bitcoin have understood how difficult it is being one’s own bank. And that’s why they have taken the help of cryptocurrency start-ups and exchanges and outsourced them with the task of keeping their private keys safe. 

Do you think Stefan will get access to his fortunes? Let us know in the comments below.