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What happened in crypto this weekend?

Ethereum’s Holesky testnet launch fails, CoinEx writes open letter to hackers, Sam Bankman-Fried’s court drama, and more.



Ethereum’s Holesky testnet launch fails, CoinEx writes open letter to hackers, Sam Bankman-Fried’s court drama, and more.

Ethereum's Holesky testnet fails launch

Ethereum developers have been forced to regroup after failing to launch a new test network, Holesky, on Sept. 16.

The testnet attempted to launch with about 1.5 million validators but failed due to a misconfiguration in the source code, according to Ethereum infrastructure firm Nethermind in a Sept. 16 post.

Ethereum Foundation engineer Parithosh Jayanthi shed more light on the matter, explaining that while some validators manually fixed the configuration issue — enabling Holesky testnet to start —there weren’t enough active validators for the network to reach finality.

Nethermind said Ethereum Foundation’s developers agreed to try again a week from the time of the post — presumably around Sept. 23.

Jayanthi said it’s “extremely likely” the network will properly launch within the next two weeks once the technical issue is resolved.

He apologized for the failed launch and said the team will ensure the same problem is prevented in the future:

“Sorry for the chaos! We'll add some more validation steps and better docs to try and make sure this doesn't happen again.”

Holesky is designed to facilitate staking, infrastructure, and protocol development on the Ethereum network. It’s replacing the Goerli testnet after developers began complaining that Goerli had too low of a supply of Goerli ETH to adequately handle testing needs.

Anthony Sassano, host of Ethereum show The Daily Gwei previously said the launch would be the largest public testnet in Ethereum history.

CoinEx writes plea to hackers in bizarre open letter

Crypto exchange CoinEx has published an open letter pleading for the hackers behind the recent $70 million heist to come forward and talk about the potential return of funds — adding a rather strange call to action.

“We sincerely invite you to work with us to resolve this issue in a securer, more reasonable, and more user-friendly manner. We encourage you to communicate and negotiate with us actively on the blockchain or through our official email address,” the firm wrote.

As hacked firms usually do, CoinEx said they were willing to offer the hackers a “generous” bug bounty as a reward for returning the stolen funds.

However, bizarrely, CoinEx applauded the white hat hackers for their “technical expertise” and even invited them to discuss how CoinEx can upgrade its security system.

“If possible, we sincerely invite you to discuss the future upgrade of CoinEx’s security system. Together with global blockchain enterprises and practitioners, we will safeguard a free, open, secure, and trustworthy blockchain ecosystem.”

CoinEx’s message to the hackers also included a message more likely intended for its affected users, stating:

“This incident has come as a profound lesson for us and has alerted us to the fact that the security of exchange assets must never be compromised. The affected assets are not just numbers; they represent the trust millions of global users have placed in us,” they said.

On Sept. 12, crypto exchange CoinEx experienced abnormally large outflows to an address with no prior history. Several blockchain security firms have pointed to North Korea’s Lazarus Group as the likely perpetrator behind the attack.

SBF’s proposed jury questions ‘unnecessarily intrusive’

United States prosecutors have objected to a series of questions Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers plan to ask prospective jurors for his upcoming trial, calling them "unnecessarily intrusive."

In a Sept. 15 letter to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, the prosecutors argued that a fair trial isn’t prejudiced by Bankman-Fried’s public image and that it isn’t fair to ask jurors to ignore what they’ve previously seen in the news.

The prosecutors specifically don’t want Bankman-Fried’s lawyers to ask prospective jurors what they think of Bankman-Fried and FTX, whether they can “completely ignore” what they’ve seen in the news and whether they’ve made up their minds about his guilt or innocence.

Prosecutors say this is “unnecessarily intrusive” and steps outside the bounds of voir dire — a process of questioning by which members of a jury are selected from a pool of prospective jurors.

The United States prosecutor’s letter of objection to District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan. Source: Courtlistener

Questions about the Bankman-Fried’s ADHD diagnosis, political donations and effective altruism — a charitable philosophical movement on which he built his reputation on — were also objected by the prosecutors.

“Telling the jury that the defendant has ADHD would serve only to improperly cast the defendant at the outset of the trial in a sympathetic light [...] His diagnosis of ADHD or depression — has no proper place at trial and the defense should also be precluded from mentioning it in opening statement.”

The prosecutors didn’t object to Bankman-Fried’s lawyers questioning prospective jurors on the cryptocurrency industry.

Bankman-Fried’s trial is set to commence on Oct. 2.

Grayscale CEO 'optimistic' a US crypto bill could be passed this year

The United States Congress may be able to pass a cryptocurrency bill by the end of the year, says Grayscale Investment CEO Michael Sonnenshein.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance on Sept. 14, Sonnenshein said there’s real momentum with cryptocurrency-related bills in Washington at the moment which could pay dividends by the year’s end:

“I'm optimistic that we absolutely could [see legislation passed] if any Congress to date could do it it certainly could be this Congress.”

The Grayscale boss said the firm has been encouraged by what they’ve seen by lawmakers in meetings over the last 12 months.

Related: Grayscale asks SEC to meet on ‘way forward’ for Bitcoin ETF conversion

He said he was particularly pleased with the efforts of Patrick McHenry, the Chairman of the U.S. House Financial Services committee — presumably in relation to the Digital Asset Market Structure Proposal draft that he co-released on June 2.

“Many of the folks that have been involved in drafting that legislation and those that have voted for it are really hoping to build on that momentum that now that Congress is coming back into session that they can re-engage on these topics and get broader members support for it.”

Sonnenshein believes the upcoming 2024 presidential election can be used as a catalyst to push this momentum even further.

Other news

Bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX has restored its customer claims portal with tighter security protocols, which was previously shut down due to a cyberattack. Claimants can now continue to submit claims for assets they held on the exchange prior to it becoming insolvent.

The United States House Financial Services Committee is moving forward with legislation aimed at preventing the issuance of a central bank digital currency. One of the bills announced by chairman Patrick McHenry purports to prohibit the Federal Reserve from initiating pilot programs to test CBDCs without approval from Congress while the other attempts to prohibit banks from offering certain financial products to individuals.

Magazine: Hodler’s Digest, Aug. 27 – Sept. 2: SEC delays BTC ETF decision, Grayscale triumphs over SEC and BitBoy gets the boot

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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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Biogen reports positive signs from early study of tau-lowering drug

An experimental genetic medicine designed to short-circuit the production of the Alzheimer’s-linked protein tau showed signs of slowing cognitive decline…



An experimental genetic medicine designed to short-circuit the production of the Alzheimer’s-linked protein tau showed signs of slowing cognitive decline in a small study from Biogen.

The company has previously demonstrated that the drug, an antisense oligonucleotide dubbed BIIB080, reduced levels of tau in the brain. The new results, presented Wednesday morning at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in Boston, suggest that the 16 people who got a high dose of the drug in the 46-person study progressed more slowly than otherwise expected after two years.

Priya Singhal

“These are early data,” Priya Singhal, Biogen’s head of development, told Endpoints News in an interview ahead of the presentation. “But we believe the signal is really important. And despite the limitations, we believe it’s real.”

The results are encouraging enough to spur Biogen to go all in on a large Phase II study that will enroll over 700 people, testing three doses of the drug, which is injected directly into the spinal fluid every three or six months. “It should give us a very good read,” Singhal said.

Tau builds up in the brain and damages neurons after the more famous amyloid protein accumulates. Biogen has previously tried to target tau in a Phase II study of its antibody gosuranemab. But unlike BIIB080, the antibody failed to lower tau levels, as measured by brain scans. It also didn’t slow cognitive decline.

Biogen’s head of neurodegenerative diseases research, Dominic Walsh, told Endpoints that the new drug is different because it “cuts tau off at its source” by blocking its mRNA code and preventing it from being made. Antibodies, in contrast, can only remove tau that already exists and may struggle to reach the molecule inside brain cells.

Dominic Walsh

Tau takes many forms and shapes, and there’s much debate about which ones are the most toxic and, thus, most important to remove. While antibody drugs are designed for certain kinds of tau, an antisense drug is agnostic, Walsh said. “You take all the guesswork out of it,” he added. “It turns down all of tau production.”

The 16 people who got a high dose of BIIB080 during the long-term extension of the study trended toward having slower declines on three tests of cognitive and functional decline — the CDR-SB, the MMSE and the FAQ — compared to data from a natural history cohort and from Biogen’s gosuranemab study.

“We saw a movement that favored the drug arms across all these three domains, and that is unusual to see,” Singhal said.

That convergence of those clinical signals with the reduction of tau on brain scans “is the thing that really makes this exciting,” Walsh said.

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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.

Read also

Is Bitcoin a religion? If not, it soon could be


Whatever happened to EOS? Community shoots for unlikely comeback

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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