Worldcoin (Worldcoin) is the talk of the blockchain town for all the wrong reasons.
Not to be confused with WorldCoin (WDC), which is another crypto entity bearing the same name, Worldcoin began with a vision to bring its cryptocurrency to as many people as possible — or at least 1 billion people initially. Amid raising US$100 million at an over US$1 billion valuation, the project is facing backlash from users and authorities due to data privacy concerns, among others.
As an initial marketing plan, the company engaged with people in public places like malls. They gave away a t-shirt and a voucher worth $20 of Worldcoin crypto, with some form of promise that the value of the coin can grow to as much as 500% of its initial value.
And to make sure no one gets to sign up more than once? Iris scanning technology.
To filter bots and prove your identity without intruding on your privacy when the company begins to distribute its coins, Worldcoin built a shiny circular object the size of a volleyball to do the scanning. You need only to stand in front of this silver orb with eyes wide open for it to register your biometrics.
It’s backed by angel investors such as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, and the founders of Solana. What could possibly go wrong?
Issues plaguing Worldcoin initiatives
The initial promise that the value of the coin will provide up to 500% returns in the future got many people hooked. With aggressive marketing tactics such as this, it was an easy hook. Worldcoin has gathered the biometric data of about 450,000 people thus far across 20 countries, among which figure Chile, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, Benin, South Africa, France, Sudan, and Indonesia.
Worldcoin wants to unlink user biometrics from its wallet in the future to ease the mind of the public over data privacy concerns. It’s only keeping the biometrics now to help its technology improve through AI. However, onlookers are wary because before unlinking, the project will convert your biometric data to a hash, which isn’t really much of a deletion of the information.
Prior to signing up, the new users are provided a data consent form. However, many have expressed concerns that additional information was required for registration by the team at Worldcoin, such as email addresses and a crypto wallet connection.
Orb operators are also recruited to make the pre-launch sign-ups quicker. Anybody can be an orb operator. The process of signing up to become one is simple: send a video introduction and a write-up discussing how one would go about recruiting people to sign up for Worldcoin.
Some operators are saying the scanning can be rigged. The same person, apparently, can sign up more than once, which is against the technology they built.
What’s next for Worldcoin?
With these issues at hand and many more, Worldcoin began halting operations in seven countries. However, the project still reassured the public that it fully recognized the issues raised. Worldcoin asked that the public be more patient with them as they fine-tune the technology.
It is also building fraud-detecting mechanisms to resolve current issues, reorient its people to abide by local laws, and provide clear and truthful information to early adopters.
CEO Alex Blania said Worldcoin’s protocol will protect users’ privacy once it’s launched and completed. The data collected will be used to minimize scams and issues in the future and to enhance the privacy of its users.
By the end of 2022, the project expects to have 6,000 orbs in circulation and up to 30 million registrants.