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What Happened? WorldCoin Crypto ID is Suspended in Kenya

By Wayan Vota on August 4, 2023

worldcoin kenya

WorldCoin is an open-source digital identification protocol that aims to democratize participation in the global economy. At its heart is a novel concept, World ID, a privacy-first, decentralized identity protocol that uses zero-knowledge proofs for digital IDs without revealing personal data.

WorldID creates unique digital IDs through various methods, such as phone number verification and Orb biometric verification. This digital passport for the Internet could solve the problem of distinguishing real humans from bots or AI algorithms and promote cryptocurrency adoption.

WorldCoin is the native token of the WorldCoin network, and is distributed to individuals simply for being unique humans, with the aim of being most widely held digital currency worldwide. New registrants received free WLD tokens worth around $50 and can convert their tokens to USDT.

WorldCoin Launch in Kenya

African tech blog TechCabal confirmed that WorldCoin is registered as a data processor by the Kenyan Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) under its parent company’s name, Tools for Humanity GmbH and it had permission from Kenyan authorities to collect private data from locals.

WorldCoin says data from the iris scans will be hidden with encryption technology and the biometric information deleted. However, there are reported hacks of WorldCoin orb operators and iris scans being traded on the dark web.

Regardless, there was a mass rush for WorldCoin in Kenya, which is one of the most vibrant global markets for cryptocurrencies. Over 4.5 million people already own crypto in Kenya, and over 350,000 Kenyans signed up to receive free WLD tokens. At Kes. 7,500.00 ($50.00) per person, that works out to Kes. 2.8B (US$17.5M) in current WLD token value in Kenya.

Noted Kenyan techie, Moses Kemibaro reports that Kenyans could sell their “pesa bure” (free money) WLD tokens for cash to local brokers, leading to an influx of people at the Orb stations. WorldCoin had to use the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to accommodate the crowd.

However, this swift adoption led to government scrutiny, culminating in a suspension of WorldCoin’s activities and WLD tokens trading in the grey market.

WorldCoin Suspended in Kenya

TechCabal confirmed the surprise that the ODPC and Kenya’s ICT regulator, the Communications Authority (CA), issued a joint statement suspending WorldCoin’s operations. This is ironic since ODPC granted a license to Tools for Humanity, WorldCoin’s parent company, to conduct operations in Kenya.

According to the two agencies, WorldCoin’s launch in Kenya has raised urgent regulatory concerns. The CA and ODPC have highlighted issues regarding data security, consent practices, consumer protection, cybersecurity, and citizen data held by private actors without proper oversight.

Moses notes that Worldcoin, WLD, and World ID represent an innovative leap toward democratizing the digital economy. However, WorldCoin is caught in a whirlwind of controversy and uncertainty, despite its promise of democratizing global digital finance. Key questions need answering, like:

  • What will be the fate of the circulating WorldCoin tokens in Kenya?
  • What does this mean for the future of crypto regulations in Kenya?

What other questions do you have about WorldCoin in Kenya or the world at large?

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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