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Jonathan Schemoul ( "True AI with free will can only be achieved with decentralised technologies".
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Worldcoin, the flagship AI project of the crypto
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Worldcoin, the flagship AI project of the crypto

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Worldcoin, the flagship AI project of the crypto

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General presentation

Worldcoin is a project created in 2020 and its token WLD was launched in July 2023.

The project is developing an anonymous digital passport, based on the principle that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between human and machine in cyberspace.

To ensure that each passport corresponds to a unique person, the device relies on biometric evidence, in this case the iris of the eye.

Worldcoin has developed a device called Orb that scans our irises to generate a code that will prove that a real person is behind a crypto address. You have to physically move to have your iris scanned.

Each crypto address linked to a verified iris can then claim recurrently distributed WLD tokens.

More than 4.2 million people across 35 countries have registered. In Europe, Orbs can only be found in Germany and Portugal.


The project is being developed by US company Tools for Humanity, which has raised a total of $240 million in three funding rounds.

Team and community

Alex Blania is the co-founder and CEO of Tools for Humanity. He previously worked as a researcher in the field of artificial intelligence. It is he who is carrying the project publicly.

The attention around Worldcoin is nevertheless crystallised on Sam Altman, who is also a co-founder. The American entrepreneur is known for having created the start-up OpenAI, the originator of the chatbot ChatGPT.


The gateway to Worldcoin is its mobile application called World App. When you install it on your smartphone, two separate private keys are generated: one corresponds to a crypto wallet and the other to the user's World ID, a digital passport.

The crypto wallet and the World ID are linked by cryptographic encryption. It is impossible to identify one from the other.

World App geolocates an Orb near where you are. The Orb scans our iris, checks if it is unique and generates a linked unique code.

By default, all images are deleted, only the code is stored in a centralised database (which the project plans to decentralise at a later date). It is not possible to identify an iris from its code thanks to zero-knowledge proof technology, a cryptographic protocol enabling secure authentication of information.

Why irises rather than fingerprints? Because it's easier to distinguish between two different irises, and irises are less likely to change over time.

This operation allows us to "stamp" our World ID passport, proving that we are a genuine unique human. We can therefore prove to the various partner applications that we are a unique user, without it being possible for them to know anything about our identity.

All users with a validated World ID can collect a welcome bonus of 10 WLD tokens (currently $100). It is also possible to receive a bonus of 3 WLD (30 dollars) every 15 days by claiming it in the application. Amounts are likely to vary over time.

Where can you use World ID?

It is currently possible to prove your "humanity" on several platforms that allow this module to be integrated.

The Discord social network allows server administrators to set it up. This is a relevant use as many bots proliferate on Discord.

With the World ID Discounts application on Shopify, merchants can grant discounts to customers who verify themselves with World ID. This prevents fake emails being sent in an attempt to claim a discount multiple times.

The Worldcoin integration with Reddit also offers Subreddits moderators the ability to assign specific tags to users who verify with World ID. This allows members of that Subreddit to clearly identify users who are unique humans, helping to improve trust and safety within communities.

The Telegram World ID Bot, meanwhile, allows an account to be verified as belonging to a unique human before it is allowed to send messages to a group.

All of these applications were developed by Tools for Humanity.

The WLD token

The WLD is a central element of the Worldcoin project. It is an ERC20 token launched on Ethereum, but premium tokens are distributed on Optimism, a layer 2 of Ethereum, where transaction fees are lower. As a result, most WLD activity takes place on Optimism, but it is possible to withdraw them to Ethereum for greater security.

According to the project's backers, WLD is intended to be the most widely distributed currency in the world. This is why the tokens have not been the subject of a single large distribution (airdrop) and are distributed in small quantities but on an ongoing basis in the form of rewards.

Note that people who hold Orbs also receive a reward when someone has their iris scanned. This was initially paid out in USDC stablecoins, but has been in WLD since October 2023.

Only 1.5% of tokens are in circulation for a capitalisation of $1.5 billion (98.5% will be progressively unlocked to follow the adoption curve). If all the tokens were available on the market, this would rise to $97 billion.

In time, the WLD is to become the governance token for the Worldcoin protocol, but for now it is the Worldcoin Foundation that governs.

Risks and limitations

The Orb is a device created by Tools for Humanity. It is not possible to verify whether it has been built correctly and whether it does not contain backdoors that could retrieve our data.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin published a blog post at the end of July 2023 in which he analyses the project. He believes that while the aim is laudable (to develop a "digital proof of humanity"), Worldcoin presents a number of security, privacy and forgery risks.

In particular, he mentions the case of creating fake people by 3D printing fake irises. Vitalik Buterin also highlights the problem of accessibility of Orbs.

To date, the machines are only available in a few countries (currently Argentina, Germany, Chile, the United States, Japan, Mexico, Portugal and Singapore). It will be complicated to facilitate its access everywhere in the world, especially in the most remote regions that are also the least banked.


The WLD token is not available to individuals or businesses residing in the United States or certain other restricted territories. However, World ID and the World App are permitted in the US.

In March 2024, the Spanish data protection authority asked Worldcoin to stop collecting personal information and to stop using the data already collected.

The project is also being investigated in France. Argentina, Portugal, Kenya and the UK are also keeping a close eye on it.

The project's existence is therefore under serious threat from many jurisdictions.


Eventually, Worldcoin wants to add more features to World ID so that it is possible to prove more than just being a unique human, such as being of age.

The project aims to create a standard protocol that anyone can adopt to build tools to prove humanity, which would solve the problem of distributing Orbs.