Worldcoin in talks with Kenyan officials to resume operations

Worldcoin, the cryptocurrency project co-founded by Sam Altman, CEO of the American Artificial Intelligence company OpenAI, is in talks with Kenyan officials to resume operations in Kenya.

The company operations were suspended in Kenya in August 2023 after claims of lack of proper papers to allow them.

The resumption, which was highly anticipated could come after talks between the company and government officials.

The crypto project was suspended in Kenya on August 2 over data security concerns amid a hysterical uptake in the capital Nairobi.

Highly placed sources within government circles an agreement has been reached to allow Worldcoin to resume operations under new guidelines.

“Operations are set to resume in early 2024 after issues that were questioned were addressed,” said a source.

There were no immediate comments from interior ministry over the claims.

President William Ruto was in September 2023 spotted in the same room with Worldcoin co-founder Sam Altman a month after its operations were suspended raising questions on the seriousness of the probe that was ongoing then.

“Worldcoin is working directly with regulators to meet Kenya’s requirements, particularly as the Assembly considers new regulations. Stipends will remain and will expand to locations across the country,” another official said.

The Worldcoin project rolled out globally on July 24. But despite its ambitions of a decentralised global currency, the project was met with privacy issues.

There were also questions about the security of the biodata the company was collecting from Kenyans.

The verification process involved scanning one’s eyeballs through an Orb in exchange for a digital identity called World ID.

The concerns were heightened by the fact that new members were getting 25 free cryptocurrency tokens known as WLD after the verification, valued at Ksh.8,256 at the time.

Kenya suspended all activities associated with the crypto project until relevant agencies certify the absence of any security risks.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told the Senate on September 14 that the government was conducting analysis of the hardware components Worldcoin used to collect data from Kenyans for the project.

He said he had yet to be convinced that Worldcoin activities were safe because the company was operating without clearance from the government.

“Citizen data is a sovereignty issue. They harvested data here operating outside the law.

Tools For Humanity had two weeks prior said they had been scanning people’s irises in Nairobi and other Kenyan urban centres since 2021 when they were piloting the project.

At the start of September, Worldcoin said over 635,000 Kenyans had downloaded the crypto app, although 345,000 had not yet verified their identities by scanning their irises.

Close to 5 million people globally have a World ID, the company says on its website, 2.6 million of which were verified.

The project has since updated to World ID 2.0, which, the company says, makes it easier to distinguish between bots and “verified humans” online.

The new version announced on Wednesday supports integrations for its World ID with Minecraft, Reddit, Telegram, Shopify and Mercado Libre.


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