Student apartment dwellers mining Bitcoin with free electricity in Finland
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin bounced into mainstream during the latter half of 2017. All cryptocurrencies are based on algorithms that require computation known as "mining", which consumes significant amounts electricity. Student apartments in Finland often include electricity, making the activity of mining a compelling opportunity for many.
Currently the largest areas for mining cryptocurrencies are countries like China and Venezuela. In these countries the state keeps the price of electricity down by the use of subsidies. Large operations - either legal or illegal - are using vast amounts of electricity to gain financial gain.
In countries like Finland mining is no longer necessarily profitable as the amount of computation in mining steadily increases over time. The electricity bill might simply be higher than the value of the acquired value. Though there is still prospect in speculation and value appreciation of the currency over time.
In apartments in the Helsinki area, around half of the student apartments include free electricity in rent. This has lead many students to practice mining Bitcoin in their apartments. HOAS, the organisation providing student housing in the capital area does currently not have any policies regarding mining activities.
Limiting Bitcoin mining tough legally and technically
According to Tommi Ora from HOAS the organization is aware of the potential for electricity consumption related to cryptocurrency mining. Ora has worked for HOAS for four years, but during that time there have been no cases where electricity (or water - also included in rent) had been used in excessive quantities.
Even if HOAS would prohibit mining activities in student apartments, it would be difficult to intervene and stop the activity. The legislation is such that it would be difficult for landlords to control the use of electricity of inhabitants. Especially if the rental contract states that electricity is included in the price.
It is obviously impossible to determine what energy is used for in individual apartments, but HOAS does have an alarm mechanism in place that is triggered by unusually high electricity consumption. As of early 2018 there have been no alarms caused by Bitcoin mining, so the activity seems to be practised at a small scale.
For new rental agreements of studio and family apartments the inhabitants will need to pay for electricity themselves. For shared apartments with multiple students, the rent is still included in the price also for new apartments. Water and a 50 Megabit internet connection is included in all agreements.