- Kenyan lawmakers also criticized it, stating that it posed a threat to the country's sovereignty.
- Worldcoin World ID 2.0 upgrade is part of efforts to address bot-related issues and ensure individual identity on the cryptocurrency platform
- The CEO of Tools for Humanity also outlined how the upgrade safeguards the data privacy of users.
Worldcoin, a multinational cryptocurrency and digital ID company, is poised to restart its operations in Kenya in 2024.
The news comes after it reportedly reached a successful agreement with the government of the East African nation.
The company, whose activities were prohibited in the country in August due to concerns about data privacy, has now agreed to comply with specific regulatory requirements.
Worldcoin’s operations were suspended when Kenyan authorities observed a rising interest in the project, which authenticates a user’s humanity and uniqueness using their iris biometrics. Individuals who signed up on the platform were provided with a digital ID known as World ID.
Officials expressed apprehensions about the security of the biometric data collected from hundreds of thousands of Kenyan citizens in exchange for a crypto token following each verification process. As of September, approximately 635,000 Kenyans were reported to have downloaded the app.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki was among the Kenyan authorities who voiced strong reservations against the World ID project, which has also faced criticism in other parts of the world regarding data privacy concerns, such as in Argentina. Kenyan lawmakers also criticized it, stating that it posed a threat to the country’s sovereignty.
The company, co-founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Tools for Humanity’s Alex Blania, is reportedly prepared to fully resume its operations in Kenya in the early months of 2024, as per an unnamed source cited by Citizen Digital.
Blania acknowledged in a post on X that the company had paused its ID verifications in Kenya and was collaborating with local regulators to address the government’s concerns.
The Standard highlighted that the surge in Worldcoin’s popularity in Kenya was not solely driven by poverty in the country, but also underscored regulatory loopholes in terms of ensuring the proper management of personal data, as well as the absence of specific legislation to guide digital currency operations.
In an interview with CNBC Television, Blania elaborated on the rationale behind the recently announced World ID upgrade, which includes the incorporation of face biometrics for verification.
He emphasized that the internet will undergo significant changes in the forthcoming years, and the Worldcoin World ID 2.0 upgrade is part of efforts to address bot-related issues and ensure individual identity on the cryptocurrency platform. Blania stated that Worldcoin developers devoted years of effort and substantial resources to construct the system.
The new face biometrics verification protocol developed by Tools for Humanity also enables re-authentication and recovery of lost World ID, according to Blania. It also streamlines the integration of World ID with other platforms and applications. The CEO of Tools for Humanity also outlined how the upgrade safeguards the data privacy of users.
Blania conceded that at the outset of the World ID project, he was skeptical about iris biometric scans because it initially seemed like a “crazy” idea. He also mentioned that he was not very surprised by the project encountering resistance in certain countries.
Nonetheless, he believes that Worldcoin is one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrency applications globally and anticipates “expansion and explosive growth” into new markets.