Worldcoin, a billion-dollar startup founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has created ripples in the Web3 space in the last two weeks. Officially launched on July 24, Worldcoin is aiming to create a network of ‘real humans' and no robots. The San Francisco, US-based company is looking to assign ‘World IDs' to global citizenry. With this ‘international proof of personhood', Worldcoin believes that people will no longer need to share their personal details like names, numbers, and email IDs in order to connect with websites.
Within two weeks of its launch, over two million people from around the world have signed up with Worldcoin. People who sign-up for their World IDs are also eligible to claim the WLD token, which is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain-based project.
At the time of writing, each WLD token was priced at $2.26 (roughly Rs. 187), showed CoinMarketCap. The total market cap of the WLD token currently stands at $266 million (roughly Rs. 2,207 crore).
Soon after the project went live, Worldcoin sign-up booths were installed in different countries. In India, several metro stations in and around the National Capital Region (NCR) and some in India's tech hub Bengaluru have Worldcoin booths with people queuing up for registrations.
While the cause that Altman's Worldcoin is trying to chase may seem noble in terms of offering security to user data, the project has received major backlash from several nations.
Those looking to register themselves for their World IDs are required to submit their biometrics with the company. Taking eye scans via its orb is Worldcoin's way of ensuring verification of each signing-up user.
This requirement has raised concerns among world governments with regards to security of their citizens as well as their countries. Policymakers are also worried about people being exposed to free WLD tokens that are being given as incentives for people signing up.
Kenya is among the first nations to take a stringent step towards controlling the Worldcoin craze — by suspending it indefinitely for the time being.
In an official statement this week, Kenya's ministry of interior and national administration said, “Relevant security, financial services, and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries to establish the authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities”.
To oversee and tackle the Worldcoin frenzy in France and Germany, regulators of the European Union are reportedly opening probes on the project.
India has released no such notice for Worldcoin, as of now.
For now, neither Altman nor the Worldcoin team has reacted to Kenya's suspension.
“Worldcoin aims to establish universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background. It is designed to become the world's largest human identity and financial network, giving ownership to everyone. All with the intention of welcoming every person on the planet and establishing a place for all of us to benefit in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI),” the project's website reads.
In March, the company said that the simplest way to use World ID is as a sign-in method.
“Upon selecting Sign in with Worldcoin on a website, mobile app or crypto dapp, you approve or reject the request from your self-custodial wallet to authenticate and prove you're a real and unique person. No one, not even Worldcoin contributors or application developers, can track you across websites, identify the World ID connected to your account or generally know more about you,” the firm noted.
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