Worldcoin Foundation Pauses Verification Services

The Worldcoin Foundation said it will use the pause to develop an onboarding program with more robust crowd control measures.

The Worldcoin Foundation has temporarily suspended its verification services in Kenya. This information was contained in a statement sent to Coinspeaker. According to the statement, the Foundation is pausing the personhood verification as a precautionary measure while it works out a crowd control plan.

The Foundation launched its World ID project to address the lack of official ID for 850 million people globally. The project uses a device called the Worldcoin Orb to scan the iris of willing participants. It then ascribes them to a unique digital identity. In exchange, participants get 25 Worldcoin tokens (WLD).

In Kenya, the verification attracted a mammoth crowd. The Worldcoin Foundation noted the overwhelming response has led to long waiting times, sometimes reaching three days. “The demand for Worldcoin’s proof of personhood verification services in Kenya has been overwhelming,”  it said. This is not surprising given that the 25 WLD translates to about KES7500, which is half of the average monthly pay of low-wage earners in Kenya. 

The Worldcoin Foundation said it will use the pause to develop an onboarding program with more robust crowd control measures. The team also plans to work with local officials to increase understanding of the privacy measures and commitments Worldcoin implements globally.

Kenya Ministry Suspends Worldcoin Activities

The temporary suspension of the verification services comes at the same time the Kenyan Ministry of Interior and National Administration is investigating the company’s operation. The Ministry suspended Worldcoin operations in the country to allow relevant security, financial services and data protection agencies to ascertain the legality of their approach.

Under the Kenyan Data Protection Act 2021, anyone who acts as a data controller or processor must register with the data commissioner. While Worldcoin is registered under its parent company’s name, Tools for Humanity GmbH, its data storage and usage data is attracting criticism. If found guilty of non-compliance with the Act, the Worldcoin Foundation could pay a fine of up to KES 5 million ($35,000). Otherwise, it could pay 1% of the undertaking’s annual turnover, whichever is lower.

Following this, the foundation has reiterated its commitment “to providing an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralized on-ramp to the global digital economy”. It also looks forward to resuming its services in Kenya and plans to work closely with local regulators and stakeholders to make it happen. 

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Babafemi Adebajo

An experienced writer with practical experience in the fintech industry. When not writing, he spends his time reading, researching or teaching.

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