The launch of blockchain-based digital passport platform Worldcoin has polarized the cryptocurrency community, with people raising questions about its centralization, privacy and security.
Worldcoin released its token, WLD, on July 24, with major exchanges such as Binance announcing support. The project consists of World ID, a privacy-protecting digital identity, and WLD, which users receive after creating a wallet.
The Worldcoin project is now active. pic.twitter.com/xZXG4w56Ps
— Worldcoin (@worldcoin) July 24, 2023
To join the ecosystem, users must provide a scan of their iris through one of Worldcoin’s specialized Orb hardware devices. The move provides a “proof of identity” that is cryptographically secured and used as a World ID, founders Alex Blania and Sam Altman wrote in a letter launching the project.
“This allows you to prove that you are a real and unique person online, while remaining completely private.”
The Global Digital Passport is set up to be stored locally on users’ mobile devices and used to prove their identity in a privacy-focused manner. World IDs are used evidence with zero knowledge to protect essential data, including biometric data, Know Your Customer data and anti-money laundering data.
Worldcoin will also allow users to “reserve” their respective IDs with a phone number in selected countries, with an iris scan required to complete the process and obtain a World ID.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin was among a number of industry figures who commented on the launch of Worldcoin and its potential for biometric proof of identity.
What do I think about biometric ID?https://t.co/yozo1buW24
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) July 24, 2023
In a long blog post which unboxed CointelegraphButerin delves into the technical details of blockchain protocols to demonstrate personality and the potential benefits and pitfalls of projects that pave the way for a use case.
Buterin emphasized that the ability to prove human identity and be used to distribute universal basic income in the future as key reasons to be for identification protocols.
“Worldcoin is unique in that it relies on highly sophisticated biometrics, scanning each user’s iris using specialized hardware called an ‘Orb.’
As Buterin explains, Worldcoin Orbs are set to be distributed around the world to allow users to create their respective digital IDs. It also highlights privacy and security concerns surrounding the Orb, design issues surrounding its native token, and some ethical concerns regarding whether biometrics “is even a good idea.”
“Risks include inevitable privacy leaks, further disruptions to people’s ability to browse the internet anonymously, coercion from authoritarian governments, and the potential impossibility of being secure at the same time as decentralization.”
Co-founder of Twitter and Bitcoin (BTC) advocate Jack Dorsey had one word to describe Worldcoin’s “attempt at global alignment”:
“Worldcoin is an attempt at global unification…”
— jack (@jack) July 24, 2023
Bitcoin advocate Anita Posch also suggested that the centralized nature of the Worldcoin project and the amount of data it manages could be a potential point of failure:
A global database of human IDs issued after an eye scan, paid for with the useless Worldcoin token, linked to all financial transaction data of each individual managed by a centralized non-profit organization collecting sensitive data for KYC/AML.
WHAT COULD BE DONE? https://t.co/8K6R17vBb0
— Anita ⚡️ Bitcoin for Justice (@AnitaPosch) July 24, 2023
EthHub co-founder Anthony Sassano offered some food for thought, suggesting that as bankrupt FTX and Three Arrows Capital (3AC) could return to all lenders the appreciation of their initial investment in Worldcoin:
FTX and 3ac invested in Worldcoin, which is currently valued at $30 billion fdv
Ergo, FTX and 3ac can now repay all creditors using their Worldcoin profits
It’s so simple
— sassal.eth (@sassal0x) July 24, 2023
EToro founder Yoni Assia hinted that Worldcoin mimics his own basic digital universal income platform GoodDollar:
— YoniAssia.eth (@yoniassia) July 24, 2023
According to the Worldcoin white paper, the protocol was originally deployed on Polygon in its beta phase, with the current version running on the Ethereum mainnet using a scalable batch architecture via the Optimism layer 2 protocol. The project has more than 2 million registered users.