Worldcoin is no longer offering its Orb-verification service in India, Brazil and France, just months after the crypto startup expanded the helmet-shaped eyeball-scanning device to those markets.
Tools for Humanity, the foundation that oversees development of Worldcoin, told TechCrunch in a statement that it had expanded the Orb to many markets this year for a “limited time access.”
The sudden retreat, however, comes as a surprise. Worldcoin had opened pop-up kiosks in many parts of India to onboard new users to the platform and drove crowds as people lined up to sign up and collect the free tokens. For months, crypto startup founders in India have been murmuring that Worldcoin is facing regulatory hurdles in the market.
Lily Gordon, a spokesperson of Tools for Humanity, said Worldcoin remains committed to “working with partners globally to ensure it meets regulatory requirements and provides a safe, secure and transparent service for verified humans.”
The Orb, a five-pound chromatic sphere, scans an individual’s eyeballs and verifies their identity. The verification system is similar to India’s Aadhaar, which uses biometric data to verify citizens’ identities. Worldcoin indicated the similarities in a post on X, formerly called Twitter, back in July 2022.
“The multi-city tour kicked off in Tokyo in April 2023 and marked the first time people in many locations across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia were able to experience the Orb. The tour concluded late summer and was also complemented by previews of the Orb in a number of cities globally alongside the launch of the protocol,” said Lily Gordon, a spokesperson of Tools for Humanity, exclusively told TechCrunch in an email early this month.
Co-founded by Sam Altman, Worldcoin started the global rollout of its services in July this year to help build a reliable solution for “distinguishing humans from AI online,” enable “global democratic processes” and “drastically increase economic opportunity.”
The startup, which has raised about $250 million altogether and counts Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures and Reid Hoffman among its backers, said at the time that it was rolling out its identity technology as well as the token internationally. Individuals can download World App, the startup’s protocol-compatible wallet software, and visit an Orb, the startup’s helmet-shaped eyeball-scanning verification device, to receive their World ID.
While Brazil and France were among the global previews of the Orb-verified services, Tools for Humanity started its biometric verifications in India ahead of its global tour. TechCrunch understands that the organization was even hiring more contractors to expand the Orb-based verification in Indian cities including New Delhi until October.
Even though the Orbs are no longer available in some markets, World App continues to onboard people in India. The organization also recently updated its protocol to World ID 2.0 to differentiate between bots and “verified humans” and help developers build new integrations. It also announced integrations for World ID with Minecraft, Reddit, Telegram, Shopify and Mercado Libre — in addition to its existing support for Discord, Talent Protocol and Okta’s Auth0.