The cryptocurrency project Worldcoin has been embroiled in controversy in Kenya, with startling revelations emerging that some participants who had their eyeballs scanned during registration are now facing health problems.
Additionally, claims have arisen that participants were promised a substantial sum of money but received a fraction of what was pledged.
Testifying before the National Assembly Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry into the Worldcoin controversy, a witness shared a troubling experience. After undergoing an eyeball scan as part of the registration process, they started experiencing eye problems, necessitating medical attention.
The scan was purportedly conducted to verify the humanity of the registrants, raising questions about the potential health risks associated with such scans.
Regarding the financial aspect of the controversy, participants were initially promised 70 US dollars (approximately Ksh.7,000) for registering with Worldcoin.
However, it has come to light that many participants received only Ksh.2,000, a significant shortfall from what was originally pledged. Witnesses, including one identified as Bernard Ochieng, recounted their disappointment, revealing that Worldcoin representatives visited schools, conducted iris scans for verification, and then provided 25 World coins, equivalent to 70 USD, but ultimately paid only Ksh.2,000 via the mobile payment platform M-Pesa.
Furthermore, it was disclosed that there was no formal written consent between the cryptocurrency firm and the participants regarding the use of iris scans and the collection of private data, raising concerns about privacy and informed consent.
In addition to the health and financial aspects of the controversy, some participants have reported experiencing social stigma, particularly from peers who did not undergo the iris scans or participate in Worldcoin.
Central Bank of Kenya Governor Kamau Thugge appeared before the committee and clarified that the CBK had no involvement in licensing or approving Worldcoin’s proprietors. He also confirmed that the central bank had no prior knowledge of Worldcoin’s activities within the country.
The Ad Hoc Committee is currently focused on establishing the connection between cryptocurrency trading in Kenya and Worldcoin’s recent activities, with a particular emphasis on the source of the funds distributed to Kenyan participants before the iris scans were conducted.