“We don’t take ID or anything. So long as you look over 18, we scan your iris,” said Ana Howard, the contractor hired to lead onboarding in London. But everyone that registers is “one hundred percent informed and knows what they’re signing up for,” she added.
Everyone who got scanned got a free T-shirt. On the front was emblazoned the Worldcoin logo and the words “unique human.”
Over the next three hours, a steady trickle of people arrived for their own appointments with the Orb, but with a varying degree of knowledge about the project and differing motivations for being there. Of the seven that spoke to WIRED, none had much if any trepidation about their eyes being scanned: There’s no such thing as privacy these days, anyway, I was told. But almost all said they would have given more thought to their decision had Altman not been associated with the project.
“I’m a fan of Sam [Altman] for ChatGPT, so I thought: Let me give it a whirl,” says Greg King, after he had been scanned. “I know a little bit [about the Worldcoin project], but not masses—I thought I’d catch up later.”
Altman was also the attraction for Michael Aldridge, another new signup, who until that morning had never heard of Worldcoin. “I may still have come along,” he said, “but would probably have done some more research.”
Others, even if they had a passing interest in the proof of personhood proposition, were primarily there for the crypto reward. James Bryant explained he was making a calculated gamble on the possibility that Worldcoin might be the next cryptocurrency to skyrocket in value; he was hoping to get in on the ground floor. “I think this might be the next chance,” he said. “It’s the next big bet. How else can you move up the social ladder?”
“It sounds greedy,” said Joe Sims, another new registrant, “but the crypto giveaway [was the reason I came.] I remember hearing about bitcoin 10 years ago, when it cost $8, but ignoring it. Maybe nothing will come of this, and yes, I’ve given up my iris—but it’s only taken five minutes.”
That logic seems to be driving a lot of the interest in Worldcoin. On the Discord server, the talk is almost exclusively about the 25-token “genesis grant”—worth about $50—awarded to those that sign up either within the first week or prelaunch. “It’s been two days already,” wrote one verified user, who was still waiting to receive their payout. “Now it feels like my three days of travel for Orb verification is wasted,” said another, in a similar boat.
Experts in tokenomics—the issuance and supply dynamics of crypto tokens—have expressed concern that the structure of the Worldcoin launch may jeopardize the project’s bold ambitions from the outset, and, potentially, disadvantage regular people that now purchase the token.
The total supply of Worldcoin tokens will be capped initially at 10 billion. Three quarters of that amount will be distributed to users over the next 15-plus years, with the remainder split between Tools for Humanity staff and investors, who must refrain from selling any for at least the next 12 months.