Sam Altman’s Tools for Humanity has raised $115 million for Worldcoin, its effort to build an identity and financial network by giving away free crypto tokens to people who agree to get their irises scanned.
The Series C fundraiser was led by Blockchain Capital and joined by a16z crypto, Bain Capital Crypto and Distributed Global. Worldcoin has set itself the ambitious target of creating “universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background”. So far it has more than 1.7 million signups.
To do this, it developed the Worldcoin token that is freely distributed to people “just for being a unique individual”. The token, along with other digital assets and traditional currencies can be used for payments and transfers globally via a World App.
To prove their uniqueness and get the token, people have their eyeballs scanned by a piece of hardware called “The Orb”.
Announcing the project in 2021, OpenAI boss Altman provoked a backlash over privacy concerns, with Edward Snowden among those chiming in.
Addressing the issue in a blog, Blockchain Capital’s Spencer Bogart says that his firm initially shared the worries: “It seemed Orwellian in nature and, at first glance, appears to be a noxious combination of hardware, biometrics, and crypto — a grab bag not for the faint of heart.”
However, after investigating the project, Bogart now insists that “World ID is a privacy-preserving identity protocol that does not collect or store anyone’s biometric information”.
Altman’s co-founder and Tools for Humanity CEO Alex Blania says: “As we embark on the age of AI, it is imperative that individuals are able to maintain personal privacy while proving their humanness. In doing so we can help ensure that everyone can realize the financial benefits that AI is poised to deliver.”