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Eye-Scanning Crypto Project Worldcoin Set for $100 Million Raise: Report

The funds could be a sight for sore eyes for the project, which recently paused some operations.

2 min read

Looking good.

That's what the iris-scanning crypto project Worldcoin is likely saying after a report that it's in the midst of an eye-popping $100 million raise which will see its valuation go to $3 billion.

According to a report in The Information, which cites anonymous sources, the round includes funding from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures. 

The startup, which came out of stealth mode in October, boasted a Series A funding round led by Andreessen that also included Digital Currency Group, Coinbase Ventures, and Multicoin, as well as FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Co-founded by Sam Altman, the former president of Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator, Worldcoin is an Ethereum-based token aiming to distribute something akin to a universal basic income for all the world's people. It's something of a cousin to other crypto projects, such as Circles and Proof of Humanity, which are working on initiatives in that same vein.

The funds, which Worldcoin has not confirmed, are much needed. Bloomberg noted just last week that it had hit the pause button on work within seven of the 20 or so countries it was active in "after local contractors departed or regulations made doing business impossible." It also began requiring smartphones for sign-ups, limiting access in countries where flip phones are still the norm.

While most cryptocurrencies can extend beyond borders without much in the way of government buy-in, Worldcoin isn't your typical crypto company. To verify that a person is eligible for the free tokens, it uses "the Orb," a device that scans irises to make sure that they're both real and haven't already been scanned.

While the startup says that "no other personal information is required" to get scanned—the image is translated into data, then discarded—privacy icon Edward Snowden argued that it could potentially be abused since the hashes of those scans are saved. "Hashes that match future scans," he tweeted back in October. "Don't catalogue eyeballs."

Altman responded via tweet: "Experimentation with new approaches to privacy and identity seem good to me. Everyone can decide what they want to use and not use."

The hope for Worldcoin is that people will decide to get the scan. According to Bloomberg, it's already scanned 450,000 people in about 20 countries. With another $100 million, they should be getting a lot more eyeballs.

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