The mission of the Worldcoin project is to build the world’s largest identity and financial network as a public utility, giving ownership to everyone.
The Worldcoin system revolves around World ID, a privacy-preserving global identity network. World ID enables users to verify their humanness online (“Proof of Personhood”) while maintaining their privacy through zero-knowledge proofs.
To engage with the Worldcoin protocol, individuals must first download World App, the first wallet app that supports the creation of a World ID. Individuals visit a physical imaging device called the Orb to get their World ID Orb-verified. Most Orbs are operated by a network of independent local businesses called Orb Operators. The Orb uses multispectral sensors to verify humanness and uniqueness, with all images being promptly deleted on-device per default (absent explicit consent to Data Custody).
All Orb-verified World IDs holders are entitled to claim recurring grants of free WLD tokens (WLD tokens are not available in the US; see the Worldcoin Tokenomics section of the project’s whitepaper for details). This has the potential to make WLD the most widely distributed digital currency.
The WLD token is designed as a utility token with governance properties, empowering users by giving them a say over the future of the protocol. Beyond conventional “one-token-one-vote” governance mechanisms, the introduction of World ID paves the way for “one-person-one-vote” mechanisms. These two mechanisms can also be combined to enable new ways of governance. After launch, the Worldcoin Foundation will solicit proposals and work with the community on how World ID and the WLD token should interact in Worldcoin’s governance model (see the project’s whitepaper for details on governance and decentralization).
The community of users will determine the token’s utility, but a few other use cases in addition to governance could emerge. For example, users may decide to use the WLD token to pay for certain actions in World App or another wallet app, to make other payments, or to signal their approval for certain initiatives or causes.
WLD is an ERC-20 token on Ethereum. Individuals will receive their user grants on Optimism Mainnet. Therefore, most WLD transactions will likely take place on the Optimism network.
Who Are the Founders of Worldcoin?
Worldcoin was founded by Sam Altman, Alex Blania, and Max Novendstern (Max Novendstern left the project in July 2021). The most well-known of the co-founders, Sam Altman, is also the co-founder and current CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator, a startup incubator. Initial research and development for the Worldcoin project was conducted by Tools for Humanity (TFH) and other partners.
Worldcoin has raised over 250M USD across several funding rounds from investors such as a16z, Khosla Ventures, Bain Capital Crypto, Blockchain Capital, and Tiger Global, among others.
What Makes Worldcoin Unique?
Worldcoin aims to build the world’s largest identity and financial network, achieving truly global adoption at a billion-people scale. In contrast to most other crypto projects, the majority of the WLD tokens will be given to individuals – simply for being human.
Using World ID, individuals will be able to prove that they are a real, unique human to any platform that integrates with the protocol, including to web3 systems, social networking sites, and governmental programs. This will enable fair airdrops or token/NFT sales, provide protection against bots/sybil attacks on social media, and enable the fairer distribution of limited governmental resources. Furthermore, World ID can also enable global democratic processes and novel forms of governance (e.g., via quadratic voting), and it may eventually support a path to AI-funded UBI.
Over two million people from more than 30 different countries across five continents have verified at an Orb during the pre-launch phase, which lasted from May 2021 untill July 2023. At launch, Worldcoin begins the rollout of 1,500 Orbs across 35+ cities in 20+ countries to meet the global demand for World ID.
How Many Worldcoin (WLD) Tokens Are There in Circulation?
The initial total supply of Worldcoin is 10 billion WLD.
For 15 years following launch, the supply cap is fixed to 10B WLD (enforced by the WLD smart contract). After 15 years, governance may decide to implement an inflation rate of up to 1.5% per year if it deems necessary for the long-term sustainability of the protocol. Governance will also decide how to allocate these newly minted tokens (if any). The inflation cap of 1.5% per year is enforced by the WLD smart contract. Per default, unless changed via governance, the inflation rate is set to 0%.
The 10B WLD tokens are allocated to different stakeholders as follows:
- 75% of the WLD tokens are allocated to the Worldcoin community.
- 9.8% of the WLD tokens are allocated to the Initial Development Team.
- 13.5% of the WLD tokens are allocated to TFH Investors.
- 1.7% of the WLD tokens are allocated to the TFH Reserve.
The Worldcoin Foundation has formulated an aspirational token allocation goal, aiming to allocate at least 60% of all WLD tokens (coming from the Worldcoin Community pool) to individuals in the form of user grants. See the Worldcoin Tokenomics section of the project’s whitepaper for details.
For live on-chain data about WLD, see this Dune dashboard.