The Worldcoin Foundation, a cryptocurrency project spearheaded by Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, is expanding its services worldwide, even as it faces regulatory hurdles in the United States.
The Berlin and San Francisco-based start-up revealed on Monday that its innovative technology, featuring the Worldcoin token—a blockchain-tracked cryptocurrency that mandates users to verify their identity—will now be accessible in 35 cities across 20 countries.
Central to the company’s vision is an advanced “orb,” utilizing eye-scanning technology, which the founders argue is essential in a future where differentiating between humans and robots becomes increasingly difficult due to the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence. Upon successful verification, users will be eligible to receive the Worldcoin tokens.
However, the ambitious global expansion encounters obstacles from US regulators, who are tightening their grip on digital assets due to concerns regarding speculation and fraudulent activities associated with cryptocurrencies. Consequently, Worldcoin tokens will not be initially available in the United States.
Sam Altman expressed his disappointment, stating, “When we started thinking about this, we didn’t think it would end up as ‘world minus the US coin’ and here we are. I’d say there’s 95 percent of the world’s population not in the US. The US does not make or break a project like this.”
While Worldcoin’s rollout coincides with remarkable advancements in artificial intelligence, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, it also takes place amidst a turbulent period for digital tokens and the broader crypto sector.
Last year, the industry faced a crisis of confidence, leading to the collapse of major players like FTX and Celsius, and prompting regulators to launch numerous enforcement actions aimed at curbing speculative crypto projects.
Despite the regulatory challenges, investors poured approximately $250 million into Worldcoin, with contributions from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, Internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, and the now-defunct FTX empire’s former leader, Sam Bankman-Fried.
Worldcoin’s co-founder, Alex Blania, acknowledged the limitations on discussing commercial aspirations due to regulatory scrutiny in the US. However, Tiago Sada, the company’s head of product, asserted that all their products are for-profit and anticipated various revenue streams from different wallets and experiences.
The Worldcoin Foundation plans to retain about 20 percent of all issued tokens to fund Orb production, initial protocol development, ecosystem development, and maintenance.
Altman acknowledged the potential discomfort associated with eye-scanning technology, stating, “It has a clear ick factor, but with proper explanation, we believe we can earn people’s trust. We are committed to transparency in explaining how the technology works and our roadmap for decentralizing the company.”
As Worldcoin sets its sights on a global presence, it faces both exciting opportunities in AI technology and the challenge of overcoming regulatory obstacles in the ever-evolving crypto landscape. The company remains confident in its ability to deliver innovative solutions while building trust among its user base.