After suspension, Worldcoin says it will temporarily pause Kenya services

Quick Take

  • The Worldcoin Foundation said in a statement that services have been paused, “out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to mitigate crowd volume.”
  • Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior said in a statement yesterday that Worldcoin’s activities in the country have been suspended until it can assess risks posed by the project.

Worldcoin, the identity-focused crypto project co-created by Sam Altman, confirmed that it has temporarily paused services in Kenya after it was yesterday hit with a suspension notice.

Kenya had been a key market for the project, which uses orb-shaped devices to scan people’s irises to help prove their uniqueness online and offers a share of a new cryptocurrency, WLD, as an incentive.

A spokesperson for the Worldcoin Foundation said that demand for its verification services in Kenya has been “overwhelming,” with tens of thousands of individuals waiting in lines over a two-day period to get a World ID.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to mitigate crowd volume, verification services have been temporarily paused,” they said. “During the pause, the team will develop an onboarding program that encompasses more robust crowd control measures and work with local officials to increase understanding of the privacy measures and commitments Worldcoin implements, not only in Kenya, but everywhere.”

The Block previously reported that Worldcoin had signed up more than a quarter of a million people in Nairobi as of December 2022. Local media reports in recent days depicted authorities breaking up crowds of thousands of people who had queued up at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi to register for the project. 

Worldcoin will work towards resuming its services in Kenya while collaborating with regulators and other stakeholders, its spokesperson said.

Token launch and global scrutiny

Worldcoin’s token, WLD, launched last week. At that time, the project had more than 2 million sign-ups — most of them based in the Global South. The WLD token is currently trading at $2.34, according to CoinGecko.

It is not only in Kenya that authorities’ interest has been piqued by the project. Bavaria’s State Office for Data Protection Supervision has been probing Worldcoin since last year over concerns about how sensitive data might be used.

In Kenya, Worldcoin has forged a partnership with Nairobi City County and is a member of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, AmCham Kenya and SafariDAO, according to a person familiar with the matter.

There appears to be some debate among Kenyan politicians as to Worldcoin’s status. On August 2, the same day the suspension notice was issued, the Cabinet Secretary for ICT and Digital Economy Eliud Owlao said Worldcoin has been operating legally in the country, having sought clearance previously.

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