Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, is emerging as a hotspot for cryptocurrency and blockchain activity. With a population of 1.55 million people, Helsinki serves as the natural meeting place for the country’s crypto industry, drawing participants from nearby cities like Tampere and Turku.
The city has a rich history and cultural heritage. Helsinki was established in 1550 as a Swedish trading post and later became the capital of Finland under Russian control. Finland gained independence in 1917 and has since become a member of the European Union and NATO.
Helsinki’s claim to crypto fame can be attributed to Martti Malmi, a software developer who sold 5,050 BTC for a small PayPal transfer in 2009. This marked the first exchange of Bitcoin for fiat currency and happened before the well-known “Pizza Day,” when Bitcoin was used to purchase physical goods.
The city’s tech innovation can be traced back to Nokia’s dominance in the cellphone market. Helsinki is also home to many video game companies, with Rovio’s Angry Birds achieving global fame. Stani Kulechov, the founder of Aave, is also from Helsinki.
The crypto community in Helsinki and Finland, however, is somewhat disorganized and divided. Many enthusiasts focus on specific facets of cryptocurrency and blockchain, such as Bitcoin, NFTs, or Web3, without embracing the entire ecosystem.
Despite this, Helsinki has a vibrant tech and startup scene, with numerous coworking spaces and the annual Slush startup conference, which attracts 25,000 participants. The city is also home to various crypto events and organizations such as Web3 Helsinki and the Finnish Bitcoin Association.
While paying with Bitcoin is not common in Finland, some establishments in Helsinki accept cryptocurrency as payment. Faro, a restaurant, is one notable example, where patrons can buy burgers and beers with sats at the monthly Bitcoin meetup. Taudo Baari and Time Bar are also crypto-friendly establishments, as is the Osuva shooting range.
In terms of crypto projects and companies, Helsinki has seen the rise and fall of several notable players. LocalBitcoins, a P2P exchange, employed about 50 people before closing its doors in February 2023. Bittiraha, a Finnish crypto company founded in 2012, installed the country’s first Bitcoin ATM and distributed Casascius physical Bitcoin. However, they have since shifted their focus.
Despite the challenges and divisions within the crypto community, Helsinki remains an important hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain activity in Finland. The city’s vibrant tech scene, diverse talent pool, and support for startups make it an attractive location for crypto enthusiasts and entrepreneurs alike.