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100,000+ people had their eyes scanned in exchange for new cryptocurrency

Various different crypto currencies logos. (voytekpavlik/Wikimedia Commons)
October 21, 2021

Over 100,000 people have volunteered to have their eyes scanned in exchange for a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin, a new report revealed Thrusday.

According to Financial Times, Worldcoin is part of an effort to distribute digital money more broadly around the world. The project has already given out around 30 devices called “orbs,” which are being used to scan people’s eyes on four continents. After taking a photo of the user’s eye, the orb creates a unique code that can be used to access free digital currency. Early orb users get rewards for signing more people up.

In the next few months, the project’s developers said hundreds more orbs will be released, with the goal of eventually issuing 4,000 orbs each month. The group said the Worldcoin cryptocurrency network will be debuted in early 2022, at which point users will be able to claim their coins. However, the team did not say how much cryptocurrency users will receive.

Worldcoin co-founder Alex Blania said the project would not invade users’ privacy, noting that the orbs convert the eye photos into unique codes composed of letters and numbers before permanently deleting the scans.

The code would be used to determine if a user has previously claimed Worldcoin currency.

“Even if I would have your iris code in one form or another, I would have no chance to find out who you actually are on the blockchain,” Blania said. Worldcoin is part of the ethereum blockchain.

Blania said roughly 130,000 people have had their eyes scanned so far. The project has already raised $25 million in venture capital.

Among the investors is Sam Altman, former president of the Y Combinator start-up accelerator and a vocal supporter of universal basic income.

The team plans to distribute a total of 10 billion coins, with 80 percent given to users, 10 percent to investors, and the final 10 percent to the firm to manufacture the orbs and develop the network.

Blania and Worldcoin’s other founders will be given a portion of the firm’s coins. Based on the current rates at which people are signing up, the group believes it will reach over 1 billion people within the first two years of operation.

Similar to other cryptocurrencies, Worldcoin is not backed by physical assets and will likely see its value change depending on popularity.

Worldcoin has already issued orbs in 12 different countries in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia.