Backed by a16z and co-founded by Sam Altman, Worldcoin will give free crypto in exchange for an eye scan.
Funded by crypto heavyweights, new crypto unicorn Worldcoin revealed its plan to let everyone claim free coins to accelerate global crypto adoption.
Providing the world population with free cryptocurrency sounds like a moonshot project, but $25 million in backing from Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase Ventures, confirmation1, Blockchange and Day One Ventures, and a valuation of $1 billion adds some weight to the Worldcoin project.
Co-founded by Alex Blania, Sam Altman and Max Novendstern, Worldcoin saw the participation of more than 100,000 people from around the world during its test period and aims to reach over a billion people within two years. For comparison, there are over 300 million crypto users worldwide as of 2021.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Worldcoin co-founder and CEO Alex Blania said that the co-founders met in 2019 and started working on the project in early 2020. “Sam thought we could really change the world for the better if we could launch a new, collectively owned, globally distributed cryptocurrency,” he said.
Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency implemented as a Layer 2 on top of the Ethereum blockchain where anybody can create accounts, submit transactions, and participate in the validation process. Its mainnet launch is expected next year.
The inclusive nature of its ecosystem, distribution of free coins and the incentives for new sign-ups are three levers to drive the adoption of crypto, Blania explained. Signing up for Worldcoin does not require any previous financial resources.
Worldcoin validates whether the person is real and has claimed their free share by scanning their irises with custom hardware named Orb. Independent entrepreneurs around the globe will operate these devices as “Orb Operators.” Blania explained that those operators are rewarded for every user they sign up for Worldcoin, for example:
“An Orb Operator in Indonesia partnered with one of the biggest food delivery companies in the country to sign up every driver, rented a whole storefront in a shopping mall to leverage high foot traffic, and was even invited by the chief of a nearby village to introduce the whole village to Worldcoin. His experience with this village was so successful that it resulted in eight other villages asking him to do the same.”
The mention of an eye scan immediately brings up Big Brother-esque concerns about user privacy. According to the announcement, the Orb will convert the scan of a person’s eye into a numeric code so the original image “does not need to be stored or uploaded.”
The underlying system won’t link this numeric code to users’ wallets or transactions to preserve privacy. Users can also participate in the Worldcoin network without providing an eye scan, but they will not be able to claim free coins.
The team is developing a non-custodial mobile wallet app to ease the onboarding process. It would enable transactions between users and act as a navigator for finding nearby Orb operators. They aim for a fast scale-up with the distribution of 50,000 Orbs per year, possibly with the upcoming funding rounds over the coming months.