Worldcoin Pauses Orb-Verification In India, Brazil, And France

Worldcoin has ceased offering its Orb-verification service in India, Brazil, and France, a surprising move occurring just a few months after the crypto startup expanded the distinctive helmet-shaped eyeball-scanning device into these markets.

Tools for Humanity, the overseeing foundation behind Worldcoin’s development, stated that the expansion of the Orb to these markets was intended for “limited-time access” this year.

The sudden withdrawal comes as unexpected news. Worldcoin had initiated pop-up kiosks across India to onboard new users, drawing crowds as people eagerly lined up to sign up and claim their complimentary tokens. However, murmurs within India’s crypto startup community had hinted at regulatory hurdles facing Worldcoin in this market for several months.

Lily Gordon, spokesperson for Tools for Humanity, affirmed Worldcoin’s ongoing commitment to “collaborating with global partners to meet regulatory standards and deliver a secure, transparent service for verified individuals.”

The Orb, a five-pound spherical scanner, validates an individual’s identity by scanning their eyeballs, reminiscent of India’s Aadhaar system utilizing biometric data for identity verification. Worldcoin highlighted these similarities in a prior X (formerly Twitter) post in July 2022.

Lily Gordon, representing Tools for Humanity, exclusively informed TechCrunch via email earlier this month: “The multi-city tour commenced in Tokyo in April 2023, allowing people across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to experience the Orb for the first time. The tour concluded in late summer, featuring previews of the Orb in various global cities alongside the protocol’s launch.”

Founded by Sam Altman, Worldcoin began its global services rollout in July this year, aiming to develop a reliable solution for distinguishing humans from AI online, facilitating global democratic processes, and significantly enhancing economic opportunities.

Having raised approximately $250 million and backed by notable names like Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Reid Hoffman, the startup initially announced the deployment of its identity technology and token internationally. Users could obtain their World ID by downloading World App, the startup’s protocol-compatible wallet software, and visiting an Orb kiosk for eyeball-scanning verification.

While Brazil and France were part of the initial Orb-verified service previews, Tools for Humanity commenced biometric verifications in India ahead of its global tour. Sources reveal the organization was actively recruiting additional contractors to expand Orb-based verifications in Indian cities, including New Delhi, until October.

Despite the Orb’s absence in select markets, World App continues to onboard users in India. The organization recently upgraded its protocol to World ID 2.0, allowing differentiation between bots and verified humans and facilitating new integrations for developers. Moreover, it announced integrations with Minecraft, Reddit, Telegram, Shopify, and Mercado Libre, complementing its existing support for Discord, Talent Protocol, and Okta’s Auth0.