A new cryptocurrency called worldcoin wants to scan 1 billion people’s iris by 2023 to speed up digital currency adoption

Worldcoin's orb in Chile
‘s orb in Chile. Worldcoin
  • A new crypto is aiming to fast-track mass digital asset adoption. To achieve this, the team behind it wants to scan people’s iris.
  • Worldcoin has scanned more than 100,000 people from different countries through a device called the Orb.
  • It was founded by Sam Altman, Alex Blania, and Max Novendstern – and is currently valued at $US1 ($AU1) billion.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The team behind a new cryptocurrency is aiming to fast-track mass digital-asset adoption – and to achieve this, they want to scan people’s iris. One billion by 2023 to be exact.

Worldcoin, which came out of stealth this past week, will give its cryptocurrency to each person who signs up. So far, it has scanned more than 100,000 people from around the world through a new device called the Orb. The coin will go live in the first quarter of 2022.

The spherical, silver hardware – about the size of a basketball – captures an image of a person’s eyes to determine whether the person is real and whether that person has already signed up in the past.

The new digital asset – founded by the former head of Y Combinator Sam Altman, along with Alex Blania and Max Novendstern – has raised $US25 ($AU34) million to date and is currently valued at $US1 ($AU1) billion.

Institutional investors include Andreesen Horowitz, Coinbase Ventures, CoinFund, while angel investors include LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

“We try to get crypto to mass adoption really, really quickly, and we have a very clear answer how to get there,” Blania told Insider. “And it seems to work really well.”

Worldcoin founders Sam Altman and Alex Blania
Worldcoin founders Alex Blania and Sam Altman Marc Olivier Le Blanc/Worldcoin

The iris scan

The team chose to scan the iris because it contains far more information than, for instance, a fingerprint, Blania explained. An age limit of 16 or 18 applies depending on the jurisdiction. Currently, there are over 30 Orbs in 12 countries across four continents.

Once the iris is scanned, a unique code can be used for claiming free digital tokens, which will be distributed via a wallet app generated by the Orb.

The team plans to ramp up production to distribute over 4,000 Orbs per month or 50,000 per year. The team licenses the Orbs, which were designed by former Apple employee Thomas Meyerhoffer, to contractors across the globe who go through rigorous interviews and verifications.

Each Orb, according to Blania, is operating “at capacity.” The team has yet to deploy Orbs in the US, citing regulatory uncertainty on digital assets.

And contrary to first impressions, he insisted the company won’t get anything in return for an iris scan, he said. Once the Orb scans both eyes, it will convert the iris image into a numeric code, which will then be deleted to protect the person’s privacy.

“It’s not an exchange,” he said. “You just verify that you have not shown up before and that’s a very different thing. We don’t want to know your name. We don’t want to see your passport.”

The new crypto

Traders who want to buy the crypto when it launches on the ethereum blockchain can do so even without having their iris scanned, Blania said. They will just not get their free share of the currency.

How much people will receive is still undecided. But the amount will range from $US20 ($AU27) to $US100 ($AU134), depending on when they sign up, Blania told Insider. “The earlier they come, the more they will receive.”

Worldcoin plans to have a fixed supply of 10 billion tokens, with 80% allocated to users, 10% to investors, and 10% to manufacturers, operators, and developers of the Orbs and the network.

“The numbers we see, and the excitement we see off the users we work with and we verify [are] extremely exciting,” Blania said.