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Worldcoin eyes big name partnerships, runs low on biometric Orbs

Worldcoin eyes big name partnerships, runs low on biometric Orbs
 

Undeterred by increasing regulatory crackdowns across the globe, Worldcoin is hoping to seal more partnerships with tech and finance companies – including OpenAI and PayPal.

For now, details are scarce. Alex Blania, who co-founded Worldcoin alongside OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman, says that the crypto platform is not ready to announce news regarding collaboration with the generative AI firm behind ChatGPT.

Worldcoin ecosystem developer Tools for Humanity has engaged in talks with PayPal per Blania. The payment company, however, has declined to comment on any moves, according to Bloomberg.

Last year, Tools for Humanity teamed up with Okta to add a “Sign in with Worldcoin” to Okta’s Auth0 marketplace. This month, the company also acquired digital wallet startup Ottr Finance and built a blockchain atop the Ethereum protocol, allowing free transactions to users who can authenticate their identity with their World IDs.

The Worldcoin project aims to enroll every person in the world into its digital identity service by scanning people’s irises in exchange for some of its cryptocurrency. Its focus on collecting biometric data, however, has been coming under increasing attacks from governments, including a raid of its Hong Kong office in January.

Tools for Humanity has been proactive in engaging regulators, according to Blania who also acts as the company’s CEO. This week, its executives met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and representatives from the country’s digital ministry.

Woldcoin is also attempting to appease regulators in Spain and Portugal by allowing users to delete their digital identity called World ID, from its app and adding age verification through identity documents. Previously, the platform used an age verification feature embedded into the iris-scanning device, called the Orb.

Orbs running out

Aside from regulatory setbacks and criticism over privacy, Worldcoin is facing another challenge. The company is running out of Orbs, the biometric hardware used for enrolling new users into its scheme, according to Blania.

Worldcoin has been experiencing rapid adoption with its World App currently counting 10 million users in 160 countries. The company currently has between 300 and 500 Orbs in circulation and is planning to ramp up its production to meet demand. The devices are manufactured at a factory in Germany, Semafor reports.

Open-sourcing the device has been at the center of the company’s attention since last year. In March, the company announced it aims to open-source the software component of Orbs.

Other, more subtle changes may also be happening inside the project. Worldcoin was initially envisioned as a platform for distributing the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Blania, however, says that the term is “politically loaded” and carries a “communist” flair. A more suitable term “distribution of scarce resources” would cover goods beyond money, including computing power used to train AI models, he adds.

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