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Worldcoin, the iris-scanning crypto project helmed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, continues to attract investors despite yet having left beta.
Citing three people with knowledge of the deal, the Financial Times reported that Worldcoin is "in advanced talks" on a new round of financing worth around $100 million. The round is backed by both existing and new investors, according to one of the people.
Worldcoin’s previous investment round included funding from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Khosla Ventures, bringing the project’s valuation to $3 billion. It also closed an a16z-led $25 million Series A funding round in October 2021, with other investors including the likes of Digital Currency Group, Coinbase Ventures, and Multicoin.
The project, which is still in beta, is reportedly preparing for the official launch in the next six weeks.
Worldcoin and OpenAI didn't immediately respond to Decrypt's request for comments.
What is Worldcoin?
Co-founded by Sam Altman, a prominent entrepreneur and former president of Y Combinator, Worldcoin aims to create a global digital currency that is distributed to everyone in the world in a fair and equitable manner.
According to the project’s website, “Worldcoin is building the world’s largest identity and financial network as a public utility, giving ownership to everyone.”
The proof-of-personhood protocol, which is used for the project's token distribution, involves the use of a biometric scan of the recipient's irises, which is then verified against a government-issued ID to confirm their identity. By doing so, Worldcoin aims to ensure that each token is distributed to a unique person: once a person's identity has been verified, they are eligible to receive a certain number of Worldcoin tokens as part of the program.
Last week, Worldcoin announced that its World App wallet, as well as World ID–the project's new privacy-focused decentralized identity protocol that enables sign-in to websites, mobile apps, and Web3 decentralized apps (dApps)–will both migrate from Polygon to Ethereum's layer-2 scaling solution Optimism as part of a broader partnership with Optimism Collective.
— Worldcoin (@worldcoin) May 11, 2023
"With more than 1.6 million sign-ups in beta and 500,000+ monthly active World App users, the deployments on OP Mainnet will expand access and help Worldcoin reach a values-aligned ecosystem of developers and users," the Worldcoin Foundation said in the announcement.
The project is still in the early stages of development, yet it has already drawn criticism from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor known for leaking classified information.
Apart from the ethical aspect of using the human body for a crypto project, Snowden raised concerns that Worldcoin seeks to produce a global database of people's iris scans, which will be kept in the form of hashes.