What is WorldCoin? The new crypto craze that has Kenyans rushing to have their eyes scanned
Kenyans seem to have been swept up by a new crypto
wave which has seen hundreds of people queuing at public malls to register for
what has now been identified as 'WorldCoin.'
On Twitter and Instagram, people have been sharing
photos and videos of desperate Kenyans thronging WorldCoin outlets for
registration and cash incentives, with the crowds getting exceptionally large
The start-up, which has so far raised close to
about $250 million (approx. Ksh.35 billion) mainly offers World ID, an
AI-resistant protocol that allows the verification of the identity of humans
online through an iris scan and has set up over 30 stations across Nairobi and
other towns to on board Kenyans.
The company is describing this service as a
“digital passport” that helps prove its holder is a real human, not an AI bot
using its physical imaging device called the ‘Orb.’
To incentivise people to sign up, WorldCoin is
doing a giveaway (Airdrop) of their digital currency WLD. Everyone who signs up
and gets verified, receives, according to Saruni Maina, a fintech expert,
This latest drive is reminiscent to the 'Public
Likes' mass hysteria which swept across Kenya several years ago.
‘Public Likes’ was a Ponzi Scheme-style website on
which users earned merely by clicking on ‘adverts.’
Users of the site got paid by simply clicking on
the adverts or Paid-to-click (PTC) - the money they received was allegedly
payment made by advertisers for every click, or what is known as Pay per Click
Kenyans in their millions rushed to sign up,
recruiting their friends and family in a hysteric cyber mess which eventually
crumbled, leaving many in despair.
Jobless and desperate, gullible Kenyans have been
rushing to get an WorldCoin iris scan, oblivious of what they are getting
themselves into, merely for the promise of making a quick buck immediately
While it has not been made explicitly clear just
how much money Kenyans are getting rewarded with, Saruni Maina says Kenyans are
pocketing about Ksh.7,000 just for signing up.
"On top of that, WorldCoin is giving away a
further 25WLD every week in what they are calling a WorldCoin Grants. Which
means, Kenyans can cash in KES 7,000 every week," he tweeted.
One of the key features of WorldCoin’s entry into
Kenya is the launch of a peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange that allows individuals to
quickly and easily access digital currencies and US dollars directly with one
another, without the need for a centralized third party to facilitate the
"Kenya is the financial and tech hub of East
Africa, and there’s a strong, natural interest here in the technologies that
are shaping the global digital economy," Wangechi Mwangi, Market Manager
for TFH in support of WorldCoin East Africa, said.
"WorldCoin is a good example of that kind of
technology, not only because of the service it provides but because, through
the engagement of Tools for Humanity, it allows Kenyans to learn more about
cutting-edge financial and identity products," it stated.
The cryptocurrency industry in Kenya has been
steadily growing in recent years, with a rising number of crypto projects and
increasing adoption by the general population.
In 2022, the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that there were around 4 million
active cryptocurrency users in the country, the then highest in Africa, and
that this number is expected to continue to rise over time.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner
(ODPC) has since urged caution as Kenyans rush to sign up for WorldCoin.
“The ODPC is aware that WorldCoin has now been
launched and is processing sensitive personal data in a manner that requires a
demonstration of proper safeguards under the Data Protection Act, 2019," Data
Commissioner Immaculate Kassait said in a statement on Friday.
"As the ODPC conducts its assessment of
WorldCoin's practices to ensure compliance with the law, Kenyans are urged to
ensure that they receive proper information before disclosing any personal or
sensitive data. Individuals are advised to thoroughly inquire about how their
data will be used."
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