Worldcoin Suspended in Kenya: Why Was Worldcoin Suspended in Kenya?

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency project that seeks to establish a global digital identity and currency network by leveraging iris scans.

The project was co-founded by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, and has successfully attracted funding from notable investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase.

A video screengrab of a Kenyan getting their eye scanned to register for Worldcoin at the KICC grounds on Tuesday, August 1, 2023.
A Kenyan getting their eye scanned to register for Worldcoin at the KICC grounds on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 | PHOTO COURTESY: Citizen Digital

However, despite its achievements, Worldcoin has encountered controversy and criticism, particularly regarding its privacy and security practices, particularly in developing countries, where it offers free tokens to those who utilize its Orb device for eye scanning.

In this article, we will delve into what Worldcoin represents, its functioning, and the reasons behind its suspension in Kenya.

What is Worldcoin?

Worldcoin is a unique cryptocurrency that adopts a proof-of-personhood algorithm to verify the identity of each user as a genuine human being.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies that employ proof-of-work or proof-of-stake mechanisms, Worldcoin necessitates users to undergo iris scans using the Orb device.

This process generates a unique identification code called an IrisCode, which is then stored on a decentralized blockchain.

With this IrisCode, users can access the Worldcoin network and receive free tokens known as WLD.

Worldcoin asserts that its technology offers a dependable and privacy-preserving method to authenticate humans online, especially in an era of artificial intelligence and bots.

How Does Worldcoin Work?

To participate in the Worldcoin network, users must download the World App, a crypto wallet supporting WLD and other cryptocurrencies.

This app also assists users in locating the nearest Orb location and booking a time slot for the iris scanning process.

The Orb, a spherical device equipped with infrared light and cameras, captures the iris pattern of each user.

An image of the Worldcoin orb-shaped device that scans people’s eyes in exchange for cryptocurrency
The Worldcoin orb-shaped device that scans people’s eyes in exchange for cryptocurrency | PHOTO COURTESY: Worldcoin

This data is encrypted, resulting in the generation of an IrisCode, a 512-bit hash that serves as the user’s identity on the blockchain.

The IrisCode is sent to the World App, where it creates a World ID, a public key for signing transactions and accessing the Worldcoin network.

Users receive a private key stored on their device, granting access to their funds.

They are then provided with a certain number of WLD tokens for free, depending on token availability and demand.

An algorithm calculates the amount of WLD tokens distributed to each user, factoring in variables like total supply, user count, growth rate, and the market price of WLD.

These WLD tokens can be used for making payments, exchanging for other cryptocurrencies, or participating in various applications and services offered on the Worldcoin network.

Is Worldcoin Suspended in Kenya?

Worldcoin initiated its beta version in July 2023, with intentions to expand operations to 35 cities across 20 countries.

However, Kenya posed significant challenges for Worldcoin, as thousands of people flocked to scan their eyes and receive free tokens.

Reports suggest that many Kenyans were unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies and their workings, and some were misled by false promises of rapid wealth accumulation.

Criticism also arose regarding the safety and security of data collected by Worldcoin, and how the company intended to utilize this data.

Why Was Worldcoin Suspended in Kenya?

On August 2, 2023, the Kenyan government announced the suspension of all Worldcoin activities in the country until relevant security, financial services, and data protection agencies could ascertain the authenticity and legality of the project’s activities.

The government ordered a thorough investigation into the potential risks and benefits of Worldcoin for Kenyan citizens.

A notice was sent out that those found supporting or engaging in Worldcoin activities would face legal consequences as prescribed by law.

Who is Worldcoin Founder?

Worldcoin was co-founded by Sam Altman, who also serves as the CEO of OpenAI, a research organization committed to developing artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity without misuse or harm.

Altman has a notable background, having formerly been the president of Y Combinator, a renowned startup accelerator that has supported companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, Stripe, and Coinbase.

Altman’s co-founders include Max Novendstern and Alex Blania, experienced entrepreneurs and engineers in the cryptocurrency space.

Novendstern previously held the position of director of business development at Filecoin, a decentralized storage network incentivized by cryptocurrency.

Blania served as the CTO of Celo, a mobile-first platform focused on making financial tools accessible to smartphone users. Additionally, Blania is the founder of Dapper Labs, the company responsible for CryptoKitties, NBA Top Shot, and the Flow blockchain.

How Does Worldcoin Work in Kenya?

Worldcoin commenced operations in Kenya in July 2023, as part of its global expansion strategy.

The company collaborated with local organizations and individuals to establish Orb locations in various places, including shopping malls, hotels, and universities.

World Coin also employed operators trained to use the Orb device and guide users through the iris scanning process.

The company reported that it had obtained the necessary permits and approvals from Kenyan authorities to conduct its activities.

According to Worldcoin, Kenya became one of the most successful markets for the project, attracting over 500,000 users in less than a month.

An image of Kenyans flocked at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to get their eyeballs scanned by the WorldCoin's Orb Shaped device
Kenyans flocked at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to get their eyeballs scanned by the WorldCoin’s Orb-Shaped device | PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter

The company attributed this success to the high demand for digital financial services in Kenya, where mobile money platforms like M-Pesa are widely utilized.

Worldcoin claimed to offer Kenyans a unique opportunity to access a global digital currency that could facilitate their participation in the emerging internet economy.

However, Worldcoin also faced criticism and backlash in Kenya, with some expressing doubts about the company’s motives and methods.

Critics accused Worldcoin of exploiting the poor and vulnerable population in developing countries, who might not fully comprehend or consent to the sharing of their biometric data.

Concerns were also raised about the security and privacy of the data collected by Worldcoin, and how it could potentially be used or misused by third parties.

The project faced legal and regulatory challenges associated with operating a cryptocurrency project in Kenya, where the central bank had previously warned against the use of digital currencies.

How Much is 1 Worldcoin Worth?

Worldcoin’s native token, WLD, is a cryptocurrency that grants access to the Worldcoin network and its applications and services.

WLD is traded on various crypto exchanges, and its price is influenced by supply and demand dynamics.

As of August 2, 2023, 1 WLD is valued at $2.33 USD, representing a 0.15% increase in the last 24 hours and a 2.62% increase in the past 7 days.

The current market cap of WLD stands at $266.65 million USD, positioning it as the #130 cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Worldcoin Price Prediction

The price of WLD is subject to several factors, including total supply, user count, growth rate, and market sentiment.

WLD has a total supply of 10 billion tokens, with 114.26 million tokens currently in circulation.

The number of users is determined by how many individuals undergo iris scans with the Orb device and receive WLD tokens for free.

This growth rate is influenced by the pace at which Worldcoin expands its operations and penetrates new markets.

Market sentiment is shaped by how people perceive Worldcoin’s vision, technology, and potential impact.

Is Worldcoin Legit?

Worldcoin is indeed a legitimate cryptocurrency project, developed by a reputable team of experts and supported by prominent investors.

However, it is also a controversial and risky endeavor, raising numerous ethical and legal questions about its practices and consequences.

As such, potential users and investors should exercise caution and conduct thorough due diligence before engaging with Worldcoin or any other cryptocurrency project.

Advantages of Worldcoin

  1. Offering a novel method for verifying human identity online using iris scans, providing a reliable and privacy-preserving solution for online authentication.
  2. Aiming to create a global digital currency network that enables financial inclusion, social impact, and universal basic income.
  3. Utilizing a proof-of-personhood algorithm that is more energy-efficient and scalable than traditional proof-of-work or proof-of-stake algorithms.
  4. Boasting a strong team of developers and advisors with extensive experience in the cryptocurrency industry.
  5. Securing over $200 million in funding from reputable investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase.

Disadvantages of Worldcoin

  1. Requiring users to share their biometric data with a third-party device, potentially exposing them to privacy and security risks.
  2. Operating in a legal gray area, with many countries yet to establish clear regulations or guidelines for cryptocurrency projects.
  3. Facing competition from other cryptocurrency projects that offer comparable or superior solutions for digital identity and currency.
  4. Depending on user adoption and network effects to succeed, which can be challenging given the low awareness and trust in cryptocurrency among many individuals.
  5. Drawing criticism for exploiting the poor and vulnerable in developing countries, who may not fully comprehend or consent to its activities.

Conclusion

Worldcoin is an ambitious cryptocurrency project that aspires to create a global digital identity and currency network based on iris scans.

Co-founded by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the project has garnered significant funding and attention.

However, its journey has been marred by controversy, particularly in Kenya, where it faced suspension and scrutiny due to concerns about data privacy, potential exploitation, and compliance with local regulations.

Worldcoin’s impact on the global financial landscape remains uncertain, making it vital for users and investors to exercise prudence and thorough research before engaging with the project or any cryptocurrency endeavor.

Did you enjoy this article? Keep reading our blog for more fascinating articles and updates on the latest developments in the world.

Leave a Comment