DEC 27, 2023
Worldcoin withdraws verification service from Indian market
Worldcoin, the startup co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has encountered setbacks in its eye-scanning initiatives just six months after its international expansion.
A recent report by TechCrunch indicates that the company’s signature orb eye-scanner is no longer available to users in the Indian market. According to that report, the Worldcoin Foundation clarified that its activities have also been suspended in France and Brazil. The company clarified that its offerings in those markets were only intended to be limited-time product previews as opposed to long-term roll-outs.
Temporary service halt
In India, the World App is experiencing widespread adoption, but the orb-verified proof of personhood services has been temporarily halted. The pause aims to allow the protocol to develop and implement a bespoke, safe and orderly process to meet the growing demand.
The setback comes after Tools for Humanity, the organization behind Worldcoin, announced the expansion of World ID, its digital identity program linked to iris scans, in July. The startup had ambitious plans, intending to make 1,500 orbs available in over 35 cities globally. Recently, the company unveiled a program offering $5 million in grants to developers utilizing its eye-scanning technology.
Sam Altman and his co-founders established Worldcoin in 2020 to help individuals prove their digital identity amidst the rise of AI. Over the years, Worldcoin has secured $250 million in funding from notable venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz. However, the startup has faced regulatory challenges, including investigations by French and German regulators and an Argentinian government agency.
Altman, himself, has navigated recent challenges. In November, the OpenAI board temporarily removed him as CEO, reinstating him two weeks later. More recently, Fortune reported that Altman quietly received $75 million from the University of Michigan for a new venture capital fund, raising questions about transparency, particularly following the launch of OpenAI’s signature product, ChatGPT.
In recent weeks, the project development team behind Worldcoin had engaged in a tour of Asia. The objective of that mission was to gather market feedback prior to engaging in greater efforts to expand the reach of its World ID verification system within the region.
To gauge market receptiveness to its product offering, the tour included meetups in major Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. Up until mid-November, the Asian region accounted for 1.4 million World App sign-ups.
The introduction of World ID 2.0 by the company on Dec. 13 led to a surge in the price of WLD. Over the course of the 48 hours that followed, it jumped from $2.47 to $4.23, a 71% increase. At the time of writing, the token unit price stood at $3.66.
As Worldcoin navigates these challenges, the cryptocurrency industry will closely monitor developments, recognizing the broader implications for the startup’s innovative approach to digital identity verification.