Company Offers Cryptocurrencies in Exchange for Eye Iris Scanner

In Spain, the company Worldcoin offers volunteers cryptocurrencies in exchange for a scan of their iris. A monetization of biometric data that worries experts.


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The Worldcoin stand in a shopping center in Barcelona (Spain), February 2024 (HENRY DE LAGUERIE / RADIO FRANCE)

Scan the iris of your eyes in exchange for cryptocurrencies. This is what Worldcoin offers, the latest project from Sam Altman, the man who is also at the origin of ChatGPT. In Barcelona, ​​where the company’s European headquarters are located, it is a huge success. Thanks to effective word of mouth or messages relayed on TikTok, thousands of people young people or people in need give up their biometric data in exchange for cryptocurrencies, and therefore money.

In a shopping center in a working-class neighborhood of Barcelona, ​​dozens of young people line up in front of a metal sphere the size of a soccer ball. It’s an orb, a biometric verification device.

Luca downloaded the application and just passed his eye in front of the machine: “They scan your iris. That’s all ! In exchange, they gave me Worldcoins, it’s their cryptocurrency. I won the equivalent of 76 euros. I’m at peace with that : Any application on the phone asks you to accept its conditions. There it’s the same !

Spanish data protection agency seized

The Worldcoin project is still quite vague: it is at the same time a cryptocurrency, a digital passport and a global wallet. But at the moment, no one knows exactly what happens to the data collected. In Barcelona, ​​the volunteers don’t really care. They are solely motivated by money.

The device that scans the iris of the eye.  Barcelona (Spain), February 2024 (HENRY DE LAGUERIE / RADIO FRANCE)

Alexandre Barradez is a specialist in cryptocurrencies: “This obviously raises questions. What is the regulatory framework ? But I don’t fear the completely science fiction scenario where, overnight, we would all be scanned with our irises and then our data would be accessible to everyone anywhere, any way.”

Three and a half million people around the world have given their data to Worldcoin, including 300 000 in Spain. In France, the adventure only lasted a few weeks. In the sights of the CNIL, the company withdrew last December.

source site-29