What is Worldcoin?

An ambitious project with a confluence of cryptocurrencies, blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies to build a biometric global identity and financial system. 

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency and digital identity project co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Alex Blania and Max Novendstern. It aims to address income inequality through its unique World ID feature, which will serve as “proof-of-personhood,” as described by Sam Altman. After two years in development and amid high anticipation, the project was launched on July 24, 2023. 

The crypto-focused project was co-founded by the trio with a three-part mission: to create a global unique digital identity, a global currency (Worldcoin token) and an app that enables payment, purchases and transfers using its token alongside other cryptocurrencies and traditional assets.

Four major components of Worldcoin

Tools for Humanity (TFH) is the company building Worldcoin and raised $115 million in a Series C round led by Blockchain Capital in May 2023. Prior rounds included investments from a16z, Khosla ventures and others. 

Worldcoin is an open-source, decentralized protocol embraced by a worldwide community of developers and technologists and aims to be self-sufficient, fostering a true decentralized vision. 

Related: What are artificial intelligence (AI) crypto coins, and how do they work?

How does Worldcoin work?

Scan your retina in exchange for cryptocurrencies and generate a unique digital identity establishing one’s proof-of-personhood among the growing sea of AI robots.

At the heart of the Worldcoin project is the concept of proof-of-personhood established by an eye-scanning device called the Orb. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), proving identity in the future will be more important than ever and the question — human or machine? — will definitely take center stage. 

Worldcoin’s white paper highlights that specialized biometric gear might be the only long-term practical way to provide AI-safe proof-of-personhood verifications, which led to the creation of the Orb. The Orb is of high importance in Worldcoin’s ecosystem:

  • Every individual will need to get their retina scanned via the Orb for biometric verification. 
  • Anyone across the globe can sign up regardless of their location or background.
  • Worldcoin is expanding its “orbing” of people by setting up centers across 35 countries and growing. 
  • The “Orb,” a special silver ball about the size of a bowling ball, is used to conduct in-person iris scans on individuals. The Orb scans the person’s iris to confirm their human identification before generating their unique World ID.

Worldcoin Orb in use in Indonesia

Worldcoin collected 2 million users in its beta and is ramping up its operations to onboard more users. Early adopters are being awarded Worldcoin (WLD), the native token of the Worldcoin protocol.

Individuals need to download the World app, scan their retinas at Orb centers, and generate a unique World ID, which will give them access to the decentralized Worldcoin ecosystem. As the network grows, so will various decentralized applications (DApps) and utilities on it. Developers can create online and mobile applications on the Worldcoin protocol using the World ID Software Development Kit (SDK).

What is a Worldcoin token, and how can I get token incentives?

The Worldcoin Orb gives WLD tokens to those who get their eyes scanned. Token incentives will be on the Optimism mainnet. 

Worldcoin (WLD) is an ERC-20 token on Ethereum mainnet. Prior to its official launch, Worldcoin Protocol successfully migrated to the OP mainnet, which was formerly referred to as the Ethereum layer-2 blockchain Optimism. The transition means the Worldcoin protocol is now on Ethereum with bridges for Optimism and Polygon PoS.

Worldcoin cryptocurrency issuance and incentives

During the beta phase, WLD was only available to early adopters as incentives for their participation in getting their eyes scanned. WLD was allocated to as many as 2 million unique new users during the beta. Worldcoin will continue these incentives post-launch, with the amount diminishing as more people are onboarded. Apart from this, Orb Operators are also rewarded with WLD issuance. 

WLD’s supply will be capped to 10 billion tokens for a duration of 15 years. However, after the 15-year period, the governance committee of the Worldcoin Protocol will have the authority to decide whether or not to increase the token supply, set at a maximum rate of 1.5% per year (the default rate is set at 0%). Additionally, the governance team will also determine how these newly minted tokens will be allocated or distributed within the network.

As per the tokenomics, 75% of the tokens have been earmarked for the community, 9.8% to the initial development team, 13.5% to the investors of Tools for Humanity and 1.7% in reserve. The combination of World ID and the WLD token will hold a significant role in protocol governance. Users will actively engage in shaping the future of the Worldcoin ecosystem, establishing it as a true community-driven initiative.

Related: What is Tokenomics? A beginner’s guide on supply and demand of cryptocurrencies

How to buy Worldcoin tokens

WLD token is listed and available via various avenues allowing people to choose the option of purchasing that best suits their needs. Prices are subject to market trends. 

WLD is available for purchase on all major centralized exchanges (CEXs), such as Binance, KuCoin, OKX, Bybit and Huobi. CEXs, such as Binance, offer multiple purchase options via credit card or bank deposit, or buying a stablecoin like Tether (USDT) or Binance USD (BUSD), and then using that coin to buy WLD.

It is also available for swaps on decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms like Uniswap and PancakeSwap. The levels of security, dependability and liquidity vary among platforms. Sam Altman and co-founder Alex Blania expressed in an open letter that the WLD token would only be accessible in regions of the world where legal compliance is more feasible.

At the time of launch on July 24, 2023, WLD was unavailable in United States, with the company clearly stating that the use, purchase or access of WLD tokens is not intended for U.S. persons, including U.S. citizens, residents, individuals located within the U.S., as well as companies incorporated, located or registered in the United States. Moreover, anyone who completes an Orb scan in the U.S. would not be eligible for the token drop. 

Is it worth investing in Worldcoin?

Worldcoin has sparked interest globally, with some expressing bullish forecasts, while others fearing privacy risks. One must educate themself on all aspects before making any investments.

Worldcoin has received mixed reviews — from criticism and controversy to futuristic and cool. When news of the retina scanners became public in late 2021, renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden expressed resistance to the concept of scanning human eyes as a requirement for receiving cryptocurrency. The project has drawn severe criticism globally over perceived privacy risks.

On the other hand, Silicon Valley investors have shown massive interest in the project and confidence in the founding team. In the era of generative AI and human-like interaction by bots, Worldcoin is a unique project poised to serve as a differentiator source between humans and AI bots in the digital world. The company’s own AI-based prediction models have estimated that over 1 billion people will have gazed into the Orb by 2023.