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Understanding Our Current Monetary System And Bitcoin’s Value Proposition

In order to understand Bitcoin’s potential role in the future, we must understand the monetary system of the present.



In order to understand Bitcoin’s potential role in the future, we must understand the monetary system of the present.

This is an opinion editorial by Taimur Ahmad, a graduate student at Stanford University, focusing on energy, environmental policy and international politics.

Author’s note: This is the first part of a three-part publication.

Part 1 introduces the Bitcoin standard and assesses Bitcoin as an inflation hedge, going deeper into the concept of inflation.

Part 2 focuses on the current fiat system, how money is created, what the money supply is and begins to comment on bitcoin as money.

Part 3 delves into the history of money, its relationship to state and society, inflation in the Global South, the progressive case for/against Bitcoin as money and alternative use-cases.

Bitcoin As Money: Progressivism, Neoclassical Economics, And Alternatives Part II

*The following is a direct continuation of a list from the previous piece in this series.

3. Money, Money Supply And Banking

Now onto the third point that gets everybody riled up on Twitter: What is money, what is money printing and what is the money supply? Let me start by saying that the first argument that made me critical of the political economy of Bitcoin-as-money was the infamous, sacrilegious chart that shows that the U.S. dollar has lost 99% of its value over time. Most Bitcoiners, including Michael Saylor and co., love to share this as the bedrock of the argument for bitcoin as money. Money supply goes up, value of the dollar comes down — currency debasement at the hands of the government, as the story goes.

Source: Visual Capitalist

I have already explained in Part 1 what I think about the relationship between money supply and prices, but here I’d like to go one level deeper.

Let’s start with what money is. It is a claim on real resources. Despite the intense, contested debates across historians, anthropologists, economists, ecologists, philosophers, etc., about what counts as money or its dynamics, I think it is reasonable to assume that the underlying claim across the board is that it is a thing that allows the holder to procure goods and services.

With this backdrop then, it doesn’t make sense to look at an isolated value of money. Really though, how can someone show the value of money in and of itself (e.g., the value of the dollar is down 99%)? Its value is only relative to something, either other currencies or the amount of goods and services that can be procured. Therefore, the fatalistic chart showing the debasement of fiat doesn’t say anything. What matters is the purchasing power of consumers using that fiat currency, as wages and other social relations denominated in fiat currency also move synchronously. Are U.S. consumers able to purchase 99% less with their wages? Of course not.

The counterarguments to this typically are that wages don’t keep up with inflation and that over the short-medium term, cash savings lose value which hurts the working class as it doesn’t have access to high yielding investments. Real wages in the U.S. have been constant since the early 1970s, which in and of itself is a major socioeconomic problem. But there is no direct causal link between the expansionary nature of fiat and this wage trend. In fact, the 1970s were the start of the neoliberal regime under which labor power was crushed, economies were deregulated in favor of capital and industrial jobs were outsourced to underpaid and exploited workers in the Global South. But I digress.

Let’s go back to the what is money question. Apart from a claim over resources, is money also a store of value over the medium term? Again, I want to be clear that I am talking only about developed nations thus far, where hyperinflation isn’t a real thing so purchasing power doesn’t erode overnight. I’d argue that it is not the role of money — cash and its equivalents like bank deposits — to serve as a store of value over the medium-long term. It is supposed to serve as a medium of exchange which requires price stability only in the short run, coupled with gradual and expected devaluation over time. Combining both features — a highly liquid, exchangeable asset and a long-term savings mechanism — into one thing makes money a complicated, and maybe even contradictory, concept.

To protect purchasing power, access to financial services needs to be expanded so that people have access to relatively safe assets that keep up with inflation. Concentration of the financial sector into a handful of large players driven by profit motive alone is a major impediment to this. There is no inherent reason that an inflationary fiat currency has to lead to a loss of purchasing power time, especially when, as argued in Part 1, price changes can happen because of multiple non-monetary reasons. Our socioeconomic setup, by which I mean the power of labor to negotiate wages, what happens to profit, etc., needs to enable purchasing power to rise. Let’s not forget that in the post-WWII era this was being achieved even though money supply was not growing (officially the U.S. was under the gold standard but we know it was not being enforced, which led to Nixon moving away from the system in 1971).

Okay so where does money come from and were 40% of dollars printed during the 2020 government stimulus, as is commonly claimed?

Neoclassical economics, which the Bitcoin standard narrative employs at various levels, argues that the government either borrows money by selling debt, or that it prints money. Banks lend money based on deposits by their clients (savers), with fractional reserve banking allowing banks to lend multiples higher than what is deposited. It comes as no surprise to anyone who is still reading that I’d argue both these concepts are wrong.

Here’s the correct story which (trigger warning again) is MMT based — credit where it's due — but agreed to by bond investors and financial market experts, even if they disagree on the implications. The government has a monopoly on money creation through its position as the sovereign. It creates the national currency, imposes taxes and fines in it and uses its political authority to protect against counterfeit.

There are two distinct ways in which The State interacts with the monetary system: one, through the central bank, it provides liquidity to the banking system. The central bank does not “print money” as we colloquially understand it, rather it creates bank reserves, a special form of money that isn’t really money that is used to buy goods and services in the real economy. These are assets for commercial banks that are used for inter-bank operations.

Quantitative easing (those scary big numbers that the central bank announces it is injecting by buying bonds) is categorically not money printing, but simply central banks swapping interest bearing bonds with bank reserves, a net neutral transaction as far as the money supply is concerned even though the central bank balance sheet expands. It does have an impact on asset prices through various indirect mechanisms, but I won’t go into the details here and will let this great thread by Alfonso Peccatiello (@MacroAlf on Twitter) explain.

So the next time you hear about the Fed “printing trillions” or expanding its balance sheet by X trillion, just think about whether you are actually talking about reserves, which again don’t enter the real economy so do not contribute to “more money chasing the same amount of goods” story, or actual money in circulation.

Two, the government can also, through the Treasury, or its equivalent, create money (normal people money) that is distributed through the government’s bank – the central bank. The modus operandi for this operation is typically as follows:

  • Say the government decides to send a one-time cash transfer to all citizens.
  • The Treasury authorizes that payment and tasks the central bank to execute it.
  • The central bank marks up the account that each commercial bank has at the central bank (all digital, just numbers on a screen — these are reserves being created).
  • the commercial banks correspondingly mark up the accounts of their customers (this is money being created).
  • customers/citizens get more money to spend/save.

This type of government spending (fiscal policy) directly injects money into the economy and is thus distinct from monetary policy. Direct cash transfers, unemployment benefits, payments to vendors, etc., are examples of fiscal spending.

Most of what we call money, however, is created by commercial banks directly. Banks are licensed agents of The State, to which The State has extended its powers of money creation, and they create money out of thin air, unconstrained by reserves, every time a loan is made. Such is the magic of double-entry bookkeeping, a practice that has been in use for centuries, where money comes into being as a liability for the issuer and an asset for the receiver, netting out to zero. And to reiterate, banks don’t need a certain amount of deposits to make these loans. Loans are made subject to whether the bank thinks it makes economic sense to do so — if it needs reserves to meet regulations, it simply borrows them from the central bank. There are capital, not reserve, constraints on lending but those are beyond the scope of this piece. The primary consideration for banks in making loans/creating money is profit maximization, not whether it has enough deposits in its vault. In fact, banks are creating deposits by making loans.

This is a pivotal shift in the story. My analogy for this is parents (neoclassical economists) telling children a fake birds and bees story in response to the question of where babies come from. Instead, they never correct it leading to an adult citizenry running around without knowing about reproduction. This is why most people still talk about fractional reserve banking or there being some naturally fixed supply of money that the private and public sectors compete over, because that’s what econ 101 teaches us.

Let’s revisit the concept of money supply now. Given that most of the money in circulation comes from the banking sector, and that this money creation is not constrained by deposits, it is reasonable to claim that the stock of money in the economy is not just driven by supply, but by demand as well. If businesses and individuals are not demanding new loans, banks are unable to create new money. This has a symbiotic relationship with the business cycle, as money creation is driven by expectations and market outlook but also drives investment and expansion of output.

The chart below shows a measure of bank lending compared to M2. While the two have a positive correlation, it does not always hold, as is glaringly evident in 2020. So even though M2 was surging higher post-pandemic, banks were not lending due to uncertain economic conditions. As far as inflation is concerned, there is the added complexity of what banks are lending for, i.e., whether those loans are being used for productive ends, which would increase economic output or unproductive ends, which would end up leading to (asset) inflation. This decision is not driven by the government, but by the private sector.

The last complication to add here is that while the above metrics serve as useful measures for what happens within the US economy, they do not capture the money creation that happens in the eurodollar market (eurodollars have nothing to do with the euro, they simply refer to the existence of USD outside the U.S. economy).

Jeff Snider gave an excellent run through of this during his appearance on the What Bitcoin Did podcast for anyone who wants a deep-dive, but essentially this is a network of financial institutions that operate outside the U.S., are not under the formal jurisdiction of any regulatory authority and have the license to create U.S. dollars in foreign markets.

This is because the USD is the reserve currency and required for international trade between two parties that may not have anything to do with the U.S. even. For example, a French bank may issue a loan denominated in U.S. dollars to a Korean company wanting to buy copper from a Chilean miner. The amount of money created in this market is anyone’s guess and hence, a true measure of the money supply is not even feasible.

This is what Alan Greenspan had to say in a 2000 FOMC meeting:

“The problem is that we cannot extract from our statistical database what is true money conceptually, either in the transactions mode or the store-of-value mode.”

Here he refers not just to the Eurodollar system but also the proliferation of complex financial products that occupy the shadow banking system. It’s hard to talk about money supply when it's hard to even define money, given the prevalence of money-like substitutes.

Therefore, the argument that government intervention through fiscal and monetary expansion drives inflation is simply not true as most of the money in circulation is outside the direct control of the government. Could the government overheat the economy through overspending? Sure. But that is not some predefined relationship and is subject to the state of the economy, expectations, etc.

The notion that the government is printing trillions of dollars and debasing its currency is, to no one’s surprise at this point, just not true. Only looking at monetary intervention by the government presents an incomplete picture as that injection of liquidity could be, and in many cases is, making up for the loss of liquidity in the shadow banking sector. Inflation is a complex topic, driven by consumer expectations, corporate pricing power, money in circulation, supply chain disruptions, energy costs, etc. It cannot and should not be simply reduced to a monetary phenomenon, especially not by looking at something as one-dimensional as the M2 chart.

Lastly, the economy should be seen, as the post-Keynesians showed, as interlocking balance sheets. This is true simply through accounting identity — someone’s asset has to be someone else’s liability. Therefore, when we talk about paying back the debt or reducing government spending, the question should be what other balance sheets get affected and how. Let me give a simplified example: in the 1990s during the Clinton era, the U.S. government celebrated budget surpluses and paying back its national debt. However, since by definition someone else had to be getting more indebted, the U.S. household sector racked up more debt. And since households couldn’t create money while the government could, that increased the overall risk in the financial sector.

Bitcoin As Money

I can imagine the people reading till now (if you made it this far) saying “Bitcoin fixes this!” because it's transparent, has a fixed issuance rate and a supply cap of 21 million. Here I have both economic and philosophic arguments as for why these features, regardless of the current state of fiat currency, are not the superior solution that they are described to be. The first thing to note here is that, as this piece has hopefully shown thus far, that since the rate of change of money supply is not equal to inflation, inflation under BTC is not transparent or programmatic and will still be subject to the forces of demand and supply, power of the price setters, exogenous shocks, etc.

Money is the grease that allows the cogs of the economy to churn without too much friction. It flows to sectors of the economy that require more of it, allows new avenues to develop and acts as a system that, ideally, irons out wrinkles. The Bitcoin standard argument rests on the neoclassical assumption that the government controls (or manipulates, as Bitcoiners call it) the money supply and that wrestling away this power would lead to some true form of a monetary system. However, our current financial system is largely run by a network of private actors that The State has little, arguably too little, control over, despite these actors benefitting from The State insuring deposits and acting as the lender of last resort. And yes, of course elite capture of The State makes the nexus between financial institutions and the government culpable for this mess.

But even if we take the Hayekian approach, which focuses on decentralizing control completely and harnessing the collective intelligence of society, countering the current system with these features of Bitcoin falls into the technocratic end of the spectrum because they are prescriptive and create rigidity. Should there be a cap on money supply? What is the appropriate issuance of new money? Should this hold in all situations agnostic of other socioeconomic conditions? Pretending that Satoshi somehow was able to answer all these questions across time and space, to the extent that no one should make any adjustments, seems remarkably technocratic for a community that is talking about the “people’s money” and freedom from the tyranny of experts.

Bitcoin is not democratic and not controlled by the people, despite it offering a low barrier to enter the financial system. Just because it is not centrally governed and the rules can’t be changed by a small minority does not, by definition, mean Bitcoin is some bottom-up form of money. It is not neutral money either because the choice to create a system that has a fixed supply is a subjective and political choice of what money should be, rather than some a priori superior quality. Some proponents might say that, if need be, Bitcoin can be changed through the action of the majority, but as soon as this door is opened, questions of politics, equality and justice flood back in, taking this conversation back to the start of history. This is not to say that these features are not valuable — indeed they are, as I argue later, but for other use-cases.

Therefore, my contentions thus far have been that:

  • Understanding the money supply is complicated because of the financial complexity at play.
  • The money supply does not necessarily lead to inflation.
  • Governments do not control the money supply and that central bank money (reserves) are not the same thing as money.
  • Inflationary currencies do not necessarily lead to a loss of purchasing power, and that that depends more on the socioeconomic setup.
  • An endogenous, elastic money supply is necessary to adjust to economic changes.
  • Bitcoin is not democratic money simply even though its governance is decentralized.

In Part 3, I discuss the history of money and its relationship with the state, analyze other conceptual arguments that underpin the Bitcoin Standard, provide a perspective on the Global South, and present alternative use-cases.

This is a guest post by Taimur Ahmad. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

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New Home Sales increase to 759,000 Annual Rate in September

The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 759 thousand.

The previous three months were revised down slightly, combined.

Sales of new single‐family houses in September 2023 were at a seas…



The Census Bureau reports New Home Sales in September were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 759 thousand. The previous three months were revised down slightly, combined.
Sales of new single‐family houses in September 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 759,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 12.3 percent above the revised August rate of 676,000 and is 33.9 percent above the September 2022 estimate of 567,000. emphasis added
New Home SalesClick on graph for larger image. The first graph shows New Home Sales vs. recessions since 1963. The dashed line is the current sales rate. New home sales are above pre-pandemic levels. The second graph shows New Home Months of Supply. New Home Sales, Months of SupplyThe months of supply decreased in September to 6.9 months from 7.7 months in August. The all-time record high was 12.2 months of supply in January 2009. The all-time record low was 3.3 months in August 2020. This is above the top of the normal range (about 4 to 6 months of supply is normal).
"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 435,000. This represents a supply of 6.9 months at the current sales rate."
Sales were well above expectations of 679 thousand SAAR, and sales for the three previous months were only revised down slightly, combined. I'll have more later today.

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5,050 Bitcoin for $5 in 2009: Helsinki’s claim to crypto fame

Helsinki played host to the first Bitcoin for fiat transaction in 2009 — 5050 Bitcoin for $5 — 6 months before Pizza Day. Crypto City Guide.



Helsinki played host to the first Bitcoin for fiat transaction in 2009 — 5050 Bitcoin for $5 — 6 months before Pizza Day. Crypto City Guide.

This Crypto City guide looks at Finlands crypto culture: The most notable projects and people, its financial infrastructure, which retailers accept crypto, and where you can find blockchain education courses.

City: Helsinki
Country: Finland
Population: 1.55 million 
Established: 1550
Languages: Finnish and Swedish, with English widely spoken

Jump to: Crypto culture, Where to spend crypto in Helsinki, Crypto projects and companies, Local crypto controversies, Crypto education and community, Notable crypto figures from Helsinki

Situated on the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki is the capital of Finland and is arguably the worlds most northern metropolis, with 1.5 million people 30% of the countrys population calling the metro area home. Its inhabitants spend winter in a cold, still darkness but enjoy 11:00 pm sunsets in summertime.

Helsinki Cathedral at sunrise, after a night of partying
Helsinki Cathedral at sunrise, after a night of partying. (Elias Ahonen)

Major population centers are nearby, with both Tampere and Turku reachable in two hours via road or rail. There are regular ferry services across the Baltic including to Estonias capital of Tallinn, which can be reached in two hours by sea, and there are also plans to link the cities via an undersea tunnel. The nearby Helsinki-Vantaa airport is the countrys main international gateway and serves as a transfer hub for Asia.

Finland has been ranked the happiest country in the world for six consecutive years by the World Happiness Report. Its income tax rate tops out at 56% one of the highest in the world and the tax data of every resident is public. Helsinki played host to the 1952 Summer Olympics. The country joined the European Union in 1995 and adopted the euro as its currency in 1999. In 2023, Finland became a member of NATO.

As the capital, Helsinkis crypto events draw participants from across the country, making it the natural meeting place for the industry. For that reason, projects and companies from nearby cities like Tampere and Turku are also included here.

The area was first settled around 5000 BC as the ice age retreated. Vikings raided the established settlements, as did Swedish crusaders in the 10th and 13th centuries. The city was formally established in 1550 as a Swedish trading post, defended by Suomenlinna (Finlands fortress), the largest sea fort in Europe. Later, under Russian control as the Grand Duchy of Finland, the emperor moved the capital from Turku to Helsinki, which was closer to St. Petersburg. Finland became independent in 1917, after which it resisted Soviet occupation in the 1940 Winter War.

The Finnish Parliament
The Finnish Parliament. (Elias Ahonen)

Crypto culture

Helsinkis claim to crypto fame rests with Martti Malmi, a software developer who in 2009 sold 5,050 BTC for a $5.02 PayPal transfer, marking the first time that Bitcoin was exchanged for fiat currency. It occurred before the much better-known May 22, 2010, Pizza Day, when Bitcoin was first used to purchase a physical good. Eventually, Malmi used most of his Bitcoin to purchase a studio in the metro area. If hed hung on to it, itd be worth $171 million today. The Bitcoin was used to seed an exchange called New Liberty Standard, which established the first BTC price of 1,309.03 BTC for $1.

Malmi was, in some ways, a product of his environment, with Helsinki recognized as a bed of technical innovation since Nokia began to dominate the cellphone market. In 1991, Linus Torvalds began working on what became Linux at the University of Helsinki. It is also home to many video game companies, with local firm Rovios Angry Birds achieving global fame in 2009. Helsinki is also the home of Aave founder Stani Kulechov, though he has moved abroad with the company.

In 2019, a then-staunchly Bitcoin maximalist group called Konsensus organized the translation of Saifedean Ammous 2018 book The Bitcoin Standard into Finnish, and later also translated The Little Bitcoin Book by The Bitcoin Collective. According to one member, the organization has since become more accepting of other cryptocurrencies and blockchain use cases.

The crypto community in Helsinki and Finland is somewhat disorganized and divided, with many enthusiasts being interested in one facet be it Bitcoin, NFTs or Web3 without embracing the whole, and thus having few common threads. Still, a certain grassroots energy is evident.

Founding meeting of The Finnish Bitcoin Association in Helsinki on May 6, 2023
The founding meeting of The Finnish Bitcoin Association in Helsinki on May 6, 2023. (Elias Ahonen)

Where can I spend crypto in Helsinki?

Paying with Bitcoin is not common in Finland, where card and app payments dominate. One notable exception is the restaurant Faro, at which a few people are likely to buy a burger and beers with sats at the monthly Bitcoin meetup.

On the bar side, Taudo Baari and Time Bar also accept crypto. There is also the Osuva shooting range.

Samuel Harjunp, CEO and co-founder of hardware startup Xellox and regular at the Faro Bitcoin meetup, tells Magazine about the state of Bitcoin acceptance:

A few restaurants and bars have already been orange-pilled the biggest obstacles are the payment infrastructure and bookkeeping.

Crypto projects and companies in Helsinki

Today, Helsinki has a vibrant tech and startup scene with many coworking spaces. The city is also host to the annual Slush startup conference, which draws 25,000 participants.

Web3 Helsinki is a student-run organization that organized its first event on April 20, 2020, with about 150 people in attendance, making it perhaps the largest single crypto event of the year.

2023s events have included the Web3 Bash in late April, followed by the Aurora Nordic Web3 Conference in June. On June 6, the BRIDG3 Blockchain summit was held at Tamperes Nokia Arena, focusing on Web3, the metaverse and decentralized autonomous organizations.

The Aurora Nordic Web3 Conference, held in Helsinki on June 6, 2023
The Aurora Nordic Web3 Conference, held in Helsinki on June 6, 2023. (Elias Ahonen)

The Finnish Bitcoin Association was established on May 6, in an event attended by Magazine, with membership fees paid primarily with Bitcoin via the Lightning Network. Upon the conclusion of formalities, the saunas of the hosting coworking space were fired up.

For those interested in NFTs, Fungi is a platform advertising a no-code solution that lets organizations build NFT-based communities. One of these was a metaverse island called Cornerstone for VR studio ZOAN, where 100 plots could be purchased as NFTs.

HABBO NFT, operated by the local creators of the 23-year-old online chat room game HABBO Hotel, has dropped an 11,600-piece avatar collection on OpenSea and is currently developing an NFT-based game. A group called The Future of Art has also dedicated itself to promoting digital art and runs an NFT gallery.

The Finnish Web3 Landscape, according to Tampere-based The Good Cartel, which exists to support Finnish Web3 startups
The Finnish Web3 Landscape, according to Tampere-based The Good Cartel, which exists to support Finnish Web3 startups. (The Good Cartel)

An aspiring LinkedIn competitor, Kleoverse, is a proof-of-talent Web3 platform for recruiters and jobseekers that displays skills such as knowledge in programming languages through badges instead of text on a resume.

Phaver is building a Web3 social media app powered by Lens Protocol, which bills itself as the social layer of Web3. Phaver is one of many local projects that have worked with tech design studio STRGL, which specializes in protocol-level Web3 solutions. STRGLs managing director, Kasper Karimaa, sees Helsinki as a haven for developers:

Finlands role in blockchain innovation through its agile engineering community makes Helsinki the perfect place to assemble a skilled team in research, design and development.

One of the most widely known crypto companies in the country was the P2P exchange LocalBitcoins, which employed about 50 people before closing its doors in February 2023. CEO Nikolaus Kangas told Cointelegraph that this was due to a failure to turn our trade volumes and declining market share back to growth.

Bittiraha, which translates to bit money in Finnish, is another old local crypto company. It was founded circa 2012 and installed the countrys first Bitcoin ATM at the Helsinki railway station in December 2013.

The company was also a distributor of Casascius physical Bitcoin and eventually made its own line of Denarium wallets. The parent company, Coinmotion based a few hours north in Jyvskyl now operates a cryptocurrency exchange.

Another major Finnish exchange called Northcrypto can be found in Turku.

A euro stablecoin has also been developed in the city. Membrane Finances EUROe was launched in February 2023 and is designed to be an EU-regulated full-reserve stablecoin that is compliant with recent legislation. While this is notable considering the relatively few operational euro stablecoins, volume remains low at approximately $20,000 per day.

Helsinki native Anita Krypto Granny Kalergis spends most of her time in Dubai, where she organizes blockchain conferences. She feels that Finnish entrepreneurs and decision-makers lack bravery, preferring to wait for someone else to take the lead and for regulatory certainty both from the national and EU levels. Most activity is not advertised, with especially older business people afraid to rock the boat or make major moves, she observes.

Companies here will build something to 95% completion before opening their mouth, whereas projects in other countries will raise money and build partnerships based on a white paper while testing in production.

Helsinki is surrounded by sea and leaves room for nature
Helsinki is surrounded by the sea and leaves room for nature. (Elias Ahonen)

Helsinkis crypto controversies

In 2018, the Finnish customs service planned to auction 1,666 BTC that it had seized in a drug case, but decided not to proceed due to concerns that the virtual money would return to the hands of criminals, displaying a rather negative official view of cryptocurrency. In July 2022, the state eventually auctioned nearly 2,000 BTC for $47 million, with proceeds being donated to Ukraine. 

In December 2021, local media reported a trend of investment scams involving the faces of prominent people, including industrialist Heikki Herlin and then-Prime Minister Sanna Marin. 

Earlier in 2018, the police also made warnings regarding a trend of Bitcoin blackmail relating to bogus claims that hackers had webcam material of users visiting pornographic websites. In 2022, a Helsinki watch dealer fell victim to a common crypto scam, handing over Rolex watches worth $400,000 after mistakenly believing that he had received a Bitcoin transaction.

Cryptocurrency, often adjacent to scams in the news, has come to be viewed with a relatively high degree of suspicion across most of society. Commenting on the decision to halt the 2018 customs seizure sale, Pekka Pylkknen, head of finance at the Finnish Customs Service, highlighted concerns about money laundering, telling national broadcaster YLE that the buyers of cyber currency rarely use them for normal endeavors.

National media regularly interview outspoken cryptocurrency critic Aleksi Grym, head of fintech for the Finnish Central Bank, as an authoritative expert without seeking alternative pro-cryptocurrency views, though coverage has been improving.

As one may notice from this article, the term Web3 is preferred, presumably due to its distancing from the negative stereotypes of cryptocurrency.

Neither the countrys political establishment nor any major party or other large grouping of the population could be described outright as being pro-crypto.

One reason for this could be Finlands stable, highly functional, and high-trust society, in which most people do not see the need to disrupt or fix something with cryptocurrency. Bank transfers are free and near-instantaneous across the EU, with cash use increasingly rare. Virtually nobody is unbanked, and the most trusted institution is the police, with 95% public support. Harjunp, whose startup is working on solutions to protect private keys, explains the disconnect:

Many people dont understand Bitcoin and think its something between criminal money and a pyramid scheme.

It is also notable that the moon mentality and dreams of quick wealth found in many cryptocurrency investors are generally seen in a particularly negative light, with Malmi noting that he never set out to make money with Bitcoin, perhaps owing to Finnish culture and his idealistic mentality.

In the same vein, cryptocurrencies are seen by some as drivers of inequality in a country where large differences in wealth are often considered taboo.

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Crypto education and community

The Finnish Innovation Fund, or Sitra, has stated it as a priority to accelerate the local development of Web3 services, saying that its in Finlands interest to play an active role in ensuring that the metaverse is created in line with European values.

The fund has also worked with the Finnish National Gallery to create The Finnish Metagallery, an art gallery in the Decentraland metaverse whose building is modeled from the Finnish Pavilion as it appeared at the 1900 Paris World Fair.

Johanna Eiramo from the Finnish National Gallery presenting The Finnish Metagallery in Helsinki at Web3 Bash on April 27
Johanna Eiramo from the Finnish National Gallery presenting The Finnish Metagallery in Helsinki at Web3 Bash on April 27. (Elias Ahonen)

In the old capital of Turku, The University of Turku hosts the Critical Inquiry Into DAOs (CIDS) research group, of which the author is part.

Notable crypto figures from Helsinki

Martti Malmi, the first person to sell Bitcoin for fiat; Henri Brade, board member of Coinmotion; Aleksi Lytynoja, CEO and co-founder of Kleoverse; Niko Laamanen, founder of Konsensus.

Martin Wichmann, chairman of Konsensus; Antti Innanen, founder of Fungi; Sointu Karjalainen, founder of The Good Cartel; Juha Viitala, CEO and co-founder of Membrane Finance; Mika Timonen, founder of Habbo NFT; Olli Tianinen, CEO of Equilibrium Labs; Kasper Karimaa, managing director at STRGL; Jarmo Suoranta, CEO of TX – Tomorrow Explored.

Keir Finlow-Bates, CEO of Chainfrog; Ville Runola, CEO and founder of Northcrypto; Samuel Harjunp, CEO and co-founder of Xellox; Joonatan Lintala, CEO and co-founder of Phaver.

Cointelegraph team members often found in Helsinki: Elias Ahonen.

If you have any suggestions for additions to this guide, please contact

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Bitcoin = Anti-Totalitarianism

The battle for financial freedom at the precipice of total government control hinges on our active engagement and collective commitment to protecting our…



In the face of ongoing challenges to our cherished freedoms, it is imperative to critically examine the forces at play that threaten the very fabric of democracy. The ideals of freedom and open markets are at risk of being undermined by influential political forces seeking to impose oppressive order and control in the name of security. This article delves into the pressing need to fix our manipulated markets, protect Bitcoin and its inherent anti-totalitarian qualities, and inform US policymakers that democratic values are what’s at stake.

The Erosion of Free Markets and Capitalism

People who think we currently have capitalism and free and open markets haven’t been paying attention. The American economic landscape, once a paragon of capitalism, has undergone a seismic shift, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis when lawmakers selectively bailed out the bankers at the expense of the broader economy. The central banking system’s pervasive influence has led to a distortion of free markets, with quantitative easing (QE) being employed as a tool to manipulate the bond market, artificially lowering the cost of capital and thus distorting the prices of…everything. This manipulation has had far-reaching consequences, including the gutting of the middle class and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank failure this March, the deployment of tools such as the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) has further exacerbated these distortions, providing de facto yield curve control for banks, while leaving ordinary citizens to grapple with soaring interest rates and inflation. This divergence from naturally occurring economic markets and the suppression of a free and open cost of capital has pushed us closer to an economic model reminiscent of “you name it” communism regime, threatening the foundational principles of capitalism and democracy.

The Newest Assault on Financial Freedom and Bitcoin

In a recent letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren and numerous congressional members, they leverage international crises to further their own political agenda and curtail financial freedoms. Armed with a freshly published Wall Street Journal article that falsely suggests Hamas raised a significant sum of crypto funding to attack Israel - the truth couldn’t be more obscured. The irony of the claim is that the public Bitcoin blockchain provides evidence that anyone can dispute – which is exactly what happened the day following the Senator’s letter to the President. On October 18, blockchain analysis firm, Chainalysis, clarified that while some terrorist organizations, including Hamas, do leverage cryptocurrencies for funding, the scale is extremely small relative to traditional fiat banking means. They emphasized that the transparency of blockchain technology makes it a less suitable medium for illicit activities, including terrorism financing. Additionally, Chainalysis pointed out that government agencies and private sector organizations can collaborate using blockchain analysis solutions to trace and disrupt the flow of funds to these terrorist groups. They also highlighted the importance of understanding the role of service providers in these financial networks and cautioned against overestimating the scale of terrorism financing in cryptocurrency based on flawed analyses and misinterpretations. Delving deeper into the facts revealed by Chainalysis, it becomes increasingly evident how Senator Warren’s letter dramatically skewed the situation. The detailed analysis zeroes in on a specific address that conducted over 1,300 deposits and 1,200 withdrawals within a mere 7.5 months, with a total inflow of roughly $82 million in cryptocurrency. However, a mere fraction of this amount, approximately $450,000, can be linked back to a wallet associated with terrorist activities (source). This represents a mere 0.3461% of the purported $130 million claimed in the letter—a staggering discrepancy that lays bare the deceptive nature of the narrative being pushed to the White House. Not only has Business Insider reported on October 21 that Hamas operates with an annual budget of $300 million, but a significant portion of its funding also stems from taxing imports into Gaza, as well as international connections with Iran. A country to which the US government recently, and rather ambiguously, may have released $6 billion in fiat currency to in September, just a month prior to the attack on Israel. Unlike Bitcoin, which offers a publicly accessible audit trail, citizens are left in the dark about this substantial financial transaction. The narrative on what was actually released depends heavily on the news outlet or political interest one consults, often resulting in biased and self-serving points of view - the irony. This stark contrast between politically manipulated numbers and the transparent reality a public blockchain provides underscores the urgent need for thorough, factual analysis and the adoption of publicly verifiable monetary units like Bitcoin.

Why Is This So Concerning?

Kneejerk policy reactions, based on false information and poor reporting can have devastating long-term impacts to the US’s competitive economic position and more importantly the liberties and freedoms of the citizens. In what appears to be a coordinated policy response (one day after Senator Warren’s letter), The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) came out with a proposal for special measures regarding convertible virtual currency mixing and labeled it a primary money laundering concern. Based on all the information contained in the FinCEN proposal, it opens the door for expansive policy to infringe on the rights of individuals. For example, the increased surveillance and potential loss of privacy could subject individuals running Bitcoin full nodes to unprecedented scrutiny. They might find themselves burdened with regulatory requirements that are not only onerous but also infringe upon their personal privacy, and the privacy of users transacting through their nodes. The uncertainty and legal risks associated with running a full node under these proposed measures could discourage individuals from auditing their property, thus increasing their risk and reliance on bad actors. Bitcoin holders that ran their own node and took custody of their property in 2022 were NOT impacted by fraudulent centralized gate-keepers, like Sam Bankman Fried, and third party custodians that acted maliciously. Additionally, a policy attack on node operators creates less financial freedom for US citizens and an incentive for businesses in this new sector of finance to move offshore. Developers might be discouraged from creating and implementing privacy-enhancing features, limiting the potential and the very essence of American citizens and builders within this country.

What is the essence of a Bitcoin Node and why is it important?

In the gold market, how would you know if someone gave you a pure bar of gold? Well, you can own an XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) device that emits energy waves into the metal to determine the elemental composition based on the frequency of energy that comes back to the device. In short, a purity audit ensures that you have purchased actual gold. Why is this device so important – because if you buy a million dollars of gold, you want to make sure it’s the real stuff, right? In Bitcoin, that purity test is conducted by running a full node. This test can be outsourced to a third party, or it can be conducted by the individual. This point is vital: if a person is NOT allowed to run their own node and audit delivery, it would be the same as saying a person accepting delivery of a billion dollars in gold is banned from conducting their own personal audit. Since bitcoin is a digital commodity, this right to audit delivery is essential to protect their liberties against foul play. Suggesting such a device be banned is a vote for autocratic control by government handlers at the expense of the individual’s rights to protect themselves from thieves. While we are on this important subject, Bitcoin is the only blockchain that has a code base small enough to allow for everyday citizens to afford and operate their own node and provide independent audits on their property – ensuring its legitimacy and overall security. In short, Bitcoin is different – Bitcoin promotes individual freedoms, sovereignty, and liberties at the individual level. An idea consistent with our Declaration of Independence: “Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

A Call to Action

So what do totalitarian governments embrace? They embrace control. Such a control is often established through small and incremental changes that mask a deeper trend and direction that citizens don’t notice. This progression ultimately leads to absolute control. Now, what is the paramount lever to pull if a government was interested in absolute control? That’s right, the money. Because money is the energy that fuels every action and desire of the individual citizen. Therefore let me be very clear: You will not beat a totalitarian government by becoming more totalitarian. America was founded on the principle of individual rights and freedoms. Those freedoms in turn created the strongest economy and most powerful nation on the planet. It is those very freedoms that are at risk with knee jerk policy decisions to remove your individual rights in the name of security. In the face of the unstoppable tide that is Bitcoin and decentralized finance, it is paramount that we, as a society, and particularly as citizens of the United States, recognize the critical crossroads we find ourselves. The trajectory of Bitcoin’s innovation and adoption will continue, with or without the active participation or understanding of any single nation. The question that remains is whether we will be leaders or laggards in this inevitable financial evolution. Our cherished ideals of liberty and open markets are at stake. We must urgently commit ourselves to a deep and nuanced understanding of Bitcoin’s potential to secure financial freedom in an increasingly digital future. By actively choosing to educate ourselves, our communities, and engaging in meaningful dialogue with our elected representatives, we are taking essential steps towards protecting our position as a global financial leader. This is not just about maintaining economic dominance; it is about safeguarding the very liberties and freedoms that define us. The false sense of security provided by manipulated markets and snap policy decisions has eroded the foundation of capitalism—a system that, in its true form, no longer exists. We must recognize this distortion, challenge it, and champion the cause of financial freedom through Bitcoin. Supporting organizations dedicated to digital rights and financial freedom becomes not just a choice, but a duty. By contributing our time, resources, and voices, we are making a stand against the forces that seek to centralize control and diminish our economic sovereignty. On an individual level, embracing the tools that ensure our financial freedom—such as setting up Bitcoin wallets, running full nodes, and educating ourselves on the secure use of Bitcoin—is a powerful act of promoting freedom. We are fortifying the network, protecting our assets, and affirming our commitment to a future where financial freedom is accessible to all. The challenge is formidable, but the stakes are too high to remain passive. The United States has a choice: adapt and embrace the decentralized future of money, securing our liberties and financial leadership, or risk being left behind, tethered to outdated systems and eroding freedoms. The power of informed, engaged, and proactive citizens is our greatest asset in this pivotal moment. Together, we can shape a future that upholds the principles of freedom, innovation, and financial sovereignty. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” - Benjamin Franklin

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