In-depth: Worldcoin, a Sam Altman Co-Founded Crypto Project

We explore Worldcoin, the iris biometric cryptocurrency project developed by Tools for Humanity, co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in 2019

Worldcoin is a 2019-founded initiative developed by San Francisco and Berlin-based company Tools for Humanity. 

Launched by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, alongside Max Novendstern and Alex Blania, the project is backed by leading venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz and leverages iris biometric technology. 

Worldcoin’s token – WLD – is designed to drive a larger effort for a more equitable and unified global economy driven by the Internet economy. 

The token is a Layer 2 Ethereum-based cryptocurrency utilising the security of the Ethereum blockchain while retaining its own asset economy. 

Worldcoin: The Altman co-founded crypto project 

Consisting of a privacy-preserving digital identity – World ID – Worldcoin hopes to enable global democratic processes and show an eventual path to AI-funded UBI. 

While World ID is available globally, its WLD is only available in markets where the law allows. This does not include the US, but Co-founders Blania and Altman are hopeful that regulatory steps can be taken in the US so Worldcoin customers can benefit from both World ID and WLD. An open-source protocol, Worldcoin is inherently decentralised.

Worldcoin is available via the World App, a protocol-compatible wallet. Traders can download the app to reserve their share, and, after visiting an ‘Orb’ (Worldcoin’s biometric verification device), will receive a World ID. 

This enhanced security feature supports customer authentication while maintaining the customer’s complete privacy, something Worldcoin likens to a ‘digital passport’. 

Although founded in 2019, Worldcoin’s launch came in July 2023. In that time, the project has amassed a community of over 5 million people across five continents. 

Co-founders Alex Blania and Sam Altman say: “Worldcoin is an attempt at global scale alignment, the journey will be challenging and the outcome is uncertain. But finding new ways to broadly share the coming technological prosperity is a critical challenge of our time.”

Support from Tools for Humanity & The Worldcoin Foundation

Worldcoin’s creator, Tools for Humanity, remains committed to supporting the crypto project by building new tools and supporting its protocol, in addition to the continued operation of the World App. 

It is backed up by the Worldcoin Foundation, a non-profit organisation established to support the growing Worldcoin community until it becomes self-sufficient. 

Support includes overseeing grants programmes, open-sourcing new project technologies and establishing ways for users to participate in protocol governance. 

Worldcoin: Partnering with leading tech players?

However, like many emerging crypto projects, Worldcoin has faced difficulty around data compliance and regulatory adherence, at a time when Co-founder Altman was embroiled in well-documented disputes with his OpenAI workforce, leaving the company before returning once again.

The waters have settled somewhat since then, though, and now reports are swirling that Worldcoin is set for major new partnerships with OpenAI and Paypal

This comes as Tools for Humanity hints that it is attempting further collaboration with major tech and finance companies as part of its upcoming plans. 

Speaking on a potential partnership with OpenAI, Blania says: “There are some natural things in how we might and will work together, but it’s nothing that we’re ready to announce yet.”

Given the Altman connection, a collaboration between Worldcoin and OpenAI is certainly not out of the question, and it wouldn’t be the first time Worldcoin has worked with another firm either after it partnered with cybersecurity firm Okta last year to build a sign-in Worldcoin authentication service.

It’s a waiting game for now, though, but don’t be surprised if Altman’s presence in the crypto landscape – in partnership with OpenAI – reaches new heights in the near future. 


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