Controversial Worldcoin Halts Operations in Several Regions Amid Logistical Issues

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In Brief
  • Worldcoin has reportedly shut operations in at least seven countries.

  • Co-founder Alex Blania had recently accepted that things are far from perfect at the project.

  • Uneven smartphone access, and local issues with operators and regulations, are some of the problems at Worldcoin.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

Crypto startup Worldcoin, which grabbed ‘eyeballs’ through the last year, is facing logistical issues to continue operations.

A recent report by Bloomberg has revealed that Worldcoin has now shut operations in at least seven countries.

Just to rewind, the startup was founded by Sam Altman and Alex Blania back in 2020. And interestingly, the business sold its idea of free crypto handouts in exchange for an iris scan. Soon after which, the onboarding policy got privacy experts furious.

The official launch page of the project state, “Our approach relies on a custom biometric device – we call it the Orb – that verifies the uniqueness of a person through iris recognition, while ensuring their privacy through zero-knowledge cryptography.”

Now, in the second year after the launch announcement and after collecting biometrics of reported 450,000 people, Worldcoin users are left confused.

Things far from perfect

As per the report, problems like uneven smartphone access, confused users, local issues with operators and regulations, along with fraud attempts are spiraling down the launch plans of the billion-dollar startup.

However, Blania refers to these hurdles as a result of “very aggressive testing,” common for young startups. He noted that “You’re still talking to a Series A company, not an Uber,” further accepting that “Things are not perfect.”

Additionally, local contractors are reportedly dealing with angry customers who do not know why Worldcoin is now non-functional. To combat that, as per Blania’s statement cited by the report, the company plans to open-source its hardware designs and protocols. Therefore, in the next few weeks, Worldcoin will “allow anybody to verify our dedication to user privacy and security.”

Privacy concerns remain

Keeping the launch challenges aside, the project itself had drawn a lot of criticism due to its biometric ‘Proof-of-Personhood’ system. We can recall that Edward Snowden had taken to Twitter last year to warn against cataloging eyeballs.

This adds to the existing debate that if Worldcoin, which aims to capture the biometric data of one billion people by 2023, is a disaster in making. Software developer Brandon Church had told BeInCrypto previously that, “It is concerning when private entities start offering monetary incentives to collect personal data without any safeguards and or enforceable restrictions on what they can do with the data.”

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Shraddha is an India-based journalist who worked in business and financial news before diving into the crypto space. As an investment enthusiast, she has also has a keen interest in understanding crypto from a personal finance standpoint.

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