Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Worldcoin strives to create a Global ID Network resembling India's Aadhaar biometric system

"A really good analogy for the type of impact something like Worldcoin can have is the Aadhaar project in India," said Tiago Sada, head of product, Worldcoin.

Shashank Bhardwaj
Published: Nov 6, 2023 03:38:36 PM IST
Updated: Nov 7, 2023 05:18:55 PM IST

Worldcoin strives to create a Global ID Network resembling India's Aadhaar biometric systemImage: Shutterstock

Worldcoin, the iris biometric crypto project under the leadership of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, aspires to create a global identification network similar to India’s Aadhaar biometric ID system. 

Tiago Sada, the company’s Head of Product, Engineering, and Design, says the company is looking to model Worldcoin after India’s Aadhaar system, which assigns unique ID numbers and records individuals’ fingerprints, faces, and iris scans. He says, “A really good analogy for the type of impact something like Worldcoin can have is the Aadhaar project in India.”

The Aadhaar biometric system of India is a voluntary unique identification number (UID) system issued to all Indian residents. It is the most extensive biometric ID system in the world, with over 1.3 billion people enrolled.

Worldcoin’s vision is to create a similar global identity and financial network. The applications including distinguishing humans from artificial intelligence (AI) bots and facilitating universal basic income (UBI) distribution, are detailed on the company’s website.

Worldcoin’s innovative approach and rapid adoption have drawn the attention of regulators worldwide. Many countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have shown interest in monitoring the activities of Worldcoin since its launch in July. The UK’s data regulator even initiated inquiries regarding Worldcoin’s UK launch.

However, Worldcoin has faced criticism over privacy concerns. In August 2023, Kenya, one of the initial launch countries for Worldcoin, suspended its enrollment due to security, privacy, and financial worries. The Kenyan Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) had previously ordered Worldcoin to cease collecting personal data, a directive the company did not comply with.

Despite the ethical and privacy concerns surrounding potential database misuse, more than 2.4 million people have signed up for iris scans through Worldcoin’s “orb” devices in exchange for a digital ID and free crypto.

As Worldcoin continues to expand its financial network and establish a global identity, it faces the challenge of balancing its visionary goals with data protection standards and privacy concerns. In the face of regulatory scrutiny, Worldcoin must address the transparency issues to build public trust.

Shashank is the founder of yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash

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