The launch of the blockchain-based digital passport platform Worldcoin has polarized the cryptocurrency community, with people asking 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 when creating a wallet.
The Worldcoin project is now live. pic.twitter.com/xZXG4w56Ps
— World Currency (@world currency) July 24, 2023
To join the ecosystem, users must perform a scan of their iris through one of Worldcoin’s specialized Orb hardware devices. This move provides a “proof of personality” that is cryptographically secured and used as a world ID, founders Alex Blania and Sam Altman wrote in a letter at the launch of the project.
“It allows you to prove that you are a real and unique person online, while remaining completely private.”
The global digital passport is stored locally on users’ mobile devices and used to prove their identity in a privacy-focused manner. World IDs use zero-knowledge proofs to protect the underlying data, including biometric, Know Your Customer, and Anti-Money Laundering data.
Related: The OpenAI co-founder’s “World ID” project launches, along with the SDK waiting list
Worldcoin also allows users to “reserve” their respective IDs with a phone number in select countries, requiring an iris scan to complete the process and receive a World ID.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin was one of a number of industry figures to comment on Worldcoin’s launch and the potential for biometric proof of personality.
What do I think of biometric proof of personality? https://t.co/yozo1buW24
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) July 24, 2023
In a lengthy blog post unpacked by Cointelegraph, Buterin delves into the technicalities of blockchain protocols for proving personality and the potential benefits and pitfalls of projects paving the way for the use case.
Buterin highlighted the possibility of proving human identity and being used to distribute a universal basic income in the future as key reasons for existence for evidence of personality protocols.
“Worldcoin is unique in that it relies on highly sophisticated biometrics, scanning each user’s iris using a piece of specialized hardware called ‘the Orb’.”
As Buterin explains, Worldcoin Orbs will be distributed around the world for users to create their respective digital IDs. He also points to privacy and security concerns surrounding the Orb, design issues related to the original token, and some ethical concerns about whether biometrics are “a good idea.”
“Risks include unavoidable privacy leaks, further erosion of people’s ability to surf the web anonymously, coercion from authoritarian governments, and the potential impossibility of being secure and decentralized at the same time.”
Twitter co-founder and Bitcoin (BTC) proponent, Jack Dorsey, had one word to describe Worldcoin’s “attempt at global alignment”:
“Worldcoin is an attempt at alignment on a global scale…”
— jack (@jack) July 24, 2023
Bitcoin attorney 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 useless Worldcoin token, connected to all financial transaction data of each individual managed by a centralized non-profit organization that collects sensitive data for KYC/AML.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG? https://t.co/8K6R17vBb0
— Anita ⚡️ Bitcoin for Honesty (@AnitaPosch) July 24, 2023
EthHub co-founder Anthony Sassano gave food for thought, suggesting that, among others, the bankrupt FTX and Three Arrows Capital (3AC) could repay all creditors with the valuation of their early investments in Worldcoin:
FTX and 3ac both invested in Worldcoin, which is currently worth $30 billion fdv
Ergo, FTX and 3ac can now repay all creditors with their Worldcoin winnings
Super bike intact
It’s that simple
— sassal.eth (@sassal0x) July 24, 2023
EToro founder Yoni Assia suggested that Worldcoin emulate its own GoodDollar digital universal basic income platform:
In @gooddollarorg you can simply use the wallet’s facial ID to start collecting… https://t.co/mNvlZRRXYd
— YoniAssia.eth (@yoniassia) July 24, 2023
According to Worldcoin’s white paper, the protocol was initially deployed on Polygon in its beta phase, with the current version running on the Ethereum mainnet using a scalable batch architecture via layer-2 protocol Optimism. The project has more than 2 million registered users.
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