Es sounds irresistible: “A new global digital currency that gives everyone on earth a free share to start with.” This is how Worldcoin, a company with roots in California’s Silicon Valley, strong connections to Germany and an adventurous concept, describes itself. It claims to develop the first cryptocurrency that will break through into the masses and be used by at least a billion people. A currency for the world, as the name immodestly suggests, and so that the world also participates, free money is promised.
It’s a bold plan, and how it’s going to be implemented sounds downright ludicrous: In order to enroll users in this system and uniquely identify them, Worldcoin collects biometric data, namely from their eyes. There’s also the “orb,” a ball-shaped device the size of a volleyball that’s held in front of people’s faces to take pictures of their irises. It’s reminiscent of creepy sci-fi, and privacy advocates are alarmed. However, Worldcoin sees this as the only way to prevent fraud and asserts that all data collected is anonymous and secure. The company is also keen to point out that its business is not based on evaluating user data – which can be interpreted as a dig at internet giants like Facebook and Google.