Sam Altman’s Worldcoin cryptocurrency project holds official launch, but remains unavailable in US amidst crackdown on digital assets
Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project co-founded by OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, has officially launched even as it faces regulatory pressure in the US.
The company’s main offering is a “World ID” that is backed by retinal scans carried out by a silver “orb” and which are designed to prove a user is human and not a bot.
Users who take part in the scanning process are eligible to receive Worldcoin tokens, also known as WLD.
The project is being carried out by a company called Tools for Humanity based in San Francisco and Berlin.
Worldcoin has 2 million users from its beta period and as part of Monday’s launch said it would scale up its identity-scanning operations to 35 cities in 20 countries.
As an incentive to participate, users in some countries are being offered free Worldcoin tokens.
The decentralised “World ID” is intended to anticipate a world in which AI-powered bots – such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT – become increasingly difficult to distinguish from humans, making proof of humanity more valuable.
Worldcoin also sees the World ID making projects such as a “universal basic income” (UBI) possible, since such endeavours would be required to ensure recipients were a real person.
Universal basic income
Altman has said he sees UBI as a potential way to offset the impact of job losses caused by artificial intelligence – although he has conceded it will probably take a long time for UBI to become a reality.
The project received $3m in investment in 2021 and carried out an initial $100m coin sale early last year that valued its supply of tokens at $3bn.
Those failures spurred US regulators to crack down on cryptocurrencies, which they see as being used for illicit speculation and fraud, meaning Worldcoin is not initially available in the US.