Is Worldcoin’s free crypto more than just a freebie?

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From the Editor’s Desk

Dear Reader,

We’re accustomed to references to digital assets as “the future of finance.” And, since those references just happen to ring true, we rather like them, actually.

We’re less used to characterizations of cryptocurrencies, specifically, as gateway enablers of a dystopian future. If anything, the crypto phenomenon has a streak of the opposite — utopianism — deep in its intellectual DNA.

The mainnet launch of Worldcoin this week may have changed that somewhat. The first reaction of most people to schemes that scoop up their most intimate personal information — in Worldcoin’s case, through iris scans – is that it’s none of Big Brother’s damned business.

Worldcoin’s professed aim of ushering in a guaranteed basic income for everyone on the planet may be laudable, but it certainly doesn’t take much imagination to see the dystopian potential of its apparently utopian mission.

Whether it’s a trailblazing triumph, a Musk-era-Twitter-style flop, or an open door to an Orwellian future, there’s no doubt that its towering ambition involves nothing less than an attempt to reshape the world.

And reshaping the world seems to be in vogue these days, as the resources being thrown at metaverse development suggest. These efforts may harness the utility-rich potential of metaverse technology to change the world in a million smaller ways that collectively promise much more sweeping changes to the place we all inhabit.

However specific and currently small-scale, they all involve aiming big. Indeed, aiming big won us many of the best examples of innovation we enjoy today – not least digital assets. Imagine if Satoshi had said Bitcoin was just too hard.

Yet sometimes, it is good to remember that aiming big has produced not only some of humanity’s finest achievements, but also its most shameful tragedies. With this in mind, Worldcoin co-founder Sam Altman, for one, might want to ponder the fact that one person’s utopia is usually someone else’s dystopia.

Until the next time,

Angie Lau,Founder and Editor-in-ChiefForkast.News

Worldcoin’s Orbs have set a path to universal basic income but it’s raising privacy and security concerns. Image: Worldcoin/Canva

Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project co-founded in 2019 by OpenAI chief Sam Altman, launched its mainnet and WLD token on Monday, offering free crypto to eligible users for “simply for being human” in a move that is raising industry concerns over privacy, accessibility and security.

Regulators are also venturing into the fold, with the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office saying on Tuesday that it will be making enquiries on the Worldcoin project, according to Reuters. The project is also unavailable in the U.S. due to regulatory restrictions.Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin expressed his concerns in a Monday blogpost, pointing out potential issues in privacy, accessibility, centralization and security. He added that the decentralized proof-of-personhood solution that Worldcoin works towards is “one of the most valuable gadgets that people in the Ethereum community have been trying to build.”On Worldcoin, which aims to build a global identity and financial network, users receive a World ID by scanning their iris through hardware named “Orb” to confirm their identity and receive WLD cryptocurrency as a reward. Through this network, Worldcoin aims to build a universal basic income funded by artificial intelligence, which will be equally distributed to its users.Upon signing up for a World ID, users in countries that allow the operation of Worldcoin can receive 25 WLD tokens as a “genesis grant.” Each user can then claim a free WLD token each week with no cap on the total number of tokens, according to the Worldcoin website.After launching its application in May 2022, Worldcoin reached a milestone of 2 million World ID sign-ups on July 13, 2023, and now aims to increase the number of Orbs to 1,500 this summer and fall across some 35 cities in more than 20 countries.The WLD token is listed on some major crypto exchanges, including Binance, Bybit, Huobi and OKX. It peaked at US$3.58 on Monday and is trading at US$2.21, moving down 6.71% in the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Forkast.Insights What does it mean?

Worldcoin, launched on Monday, marks its distinctive presence as a digital identity venture. The modus operandi involves scanning individuals’ eyes using specially designed cameras known as “Orbs” to obtain biometric data. Users that register their data are subject to Worldcoin airdrops to their Ethereum address, the network where the cryptocurrency operates.

The goal of integrating a digital identity and economic layer is to pave the way for implementing universal basic income — a concept that Worldcoin co-founder Sam Altman firmly believes will become a necessity in light of the explosive growth of artificial intelligence.

Worldcoin’s Orbs have scanned over 2 million individuals worldwide, setting an ambitious target of reaching nearly a quarter of the global population — approximately 2 billion people. This initiative raises significant privacy concerns that Worldcoin aims to assuage with financial incentives.

The idea of “free money” may be appealing, but skeptics argue that it may not be a sufficient driver to enroll 2 billion people into the system. As per a report by the MIT Technology Review, Worldcoin’s initial batch of half a million people largely comprised the underprivileged, predominantly from developing nations.

With Orb verifications conducted in 34 countries, Worldcoin recently announced plans to expedite the distribution of Orbs in the coming months. The company plans to deploy an additional 1,500 Orbs across 35 more cities during the summer and fall.

Notably, as it stands, Worldcoin’s reach will not extend to the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China. While U.S. metropolises like New York and Los Angeles are on Worldcoin’s Orb tour, the firm’s terms and conditions have ruled out the availability of WLD tokens to U.S. individuals or entities.

From a market performance perspective, Worldcoin presents an interesting case. On the one hand, it’s attempting to capitalize on the growing interest in digital currencies while addressing the possible need for universal basic income. On the other hand, privacy concerns and limitations on the availability of tokens might constrain its potential. The project’s success will depend largely on how it navigates these challenges and evolves in response to market dynamics and regulatory environments.

The indexes are proxy measures of the performance of the global NFT market. They are managed by CryptoSlam, a sister company of Forkast.News under the Forkast Labs umbrella.

The summer slump continues in NFTs, with the Forkast 500 NFT Index reflecting an NFT market with weaker volumes and sales. This week, the index declined 2.5% to another new all-time low at 2,632.66. 

Among blockchains tracked by Forkast Labs indexes, the Cardano NFT ecosystem was the sole chain to gain this week, with the CAR NFT Composite up 1.19%. The Ethereum, Solana and Polygon NFT Composites all declined.Blockchain sales volume mostly decreased from last week, with Ethereum, Polygon and ImmutableX all falling under 10%, as Bitcoin declined 67% and Solana lost 23.4%. BNB was the only top five blockchain with higher sales volumes this week, rising 8.48%Ethereum’s US$4.1 million in sales on July 21 stood at a daily low since June 10, 2021, when sales stood at US$3.3 million in sales.Global sales volume shrank 40.33% this week with US$74.7 million in sales, down from US$112.4 million last week.Average global sales prices declined 40.14% to US$43.17 from US$64.85 last week.Sellers were on the losing end of trades this week, losing US$8.1 million across blockchains.

Forkast.Insights

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