The Government has suspended operations of the new cryptocurrency in town, Worldcoin. Launched on July 24, Worldcoin awarded first time users free tokens. The users were given 25 free tokens also known as WLD with an estimated value of Ksh 7,700 or $50. The past week has seen many Kenyans turn up in large numbers to sign up for the cryptocurrency with this craze being fueled by the free tokens.
To sign up users are required to have their irises scanned. The scanning of the iris creates a unique identity for the user. The free tokens were issued only when the iris is scanned. Worldcoin uses a unique eye scanning machine called an Orb to obtain the iris layout which is unique similar to a fingerprint scan. Worldcoin is operational in 34 countries with over 2 million users. Its parent company, Tools for Humanity, was founded in 2019 with their first sign up being in May 2021. It has since garnered over 2 million users with a boom in signups happening between January and July this year.

In a statement on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki suspended Worldcoin operations. This is after several concerns being raised over data security of those signing up. A spot-check revealed that most of the people queuing to get their irises scanned were ignorant of the whole process. Despite Worldcoin having being registered in the country as a data processor it is still quite unclear why their operations were suspended. The company claims to be getting the data from Kenyans willingly but the government is concerned that Kenyans are being exploited. Similar concerns about the currency have been raised around the world in India, the UK, France amongst other countries.
The Data Protection Act 2021 provides a framework on data collection and storage. It stipulates that all registered data processors must ensure that data is handles lawfully, mindfulness of limiting data collection and ensuring data quality. It also mandates them to ensure and maintain security measures to safeguard personal data. It has also emerged that Worldcoin is not regulated in the country. This is after the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) revealed that Worldcoin tokens, WLD, are not within the scope of the CMA, urging Kenyans to be cautious in their dealings from potential fraudulent schemes.

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