Read time: 3 minutes

US pushes Kenya to lift Sam Altman's WorldCoin suspension

By , Kenya Correspondent
22 Mar 2024
Kenya's interior minister, Kithure Kindiki.
Kenya's interior minister, Kithure Kindiki.

Kenya has revealed that the United States (US) government was pressuring it to enable WorldCoin, a cryptocurrency token linked to Sam Altman, to resume operations in its country.

Kenya's interior minister, Kithure Kindiki, told parliament that the government would not give in to US pressure until WorldCoin safety concerns voiced in August 2023 were resolved.

“The US has been pushing the government on the issues of WorldCoin, but we have remained adamant and firm,” Prof Kindiki said.

He added that the government was not going to review the suspension.

“They (US) think that WorldCoin still has a case to set up their activities here. We have remained adamant and the decision we took will remain. We are not going to review the suspension.”

In August of last year, Kenya prohibited the WorldCoin project, which allows users to scan their iris for a digital ID and subsequently receive free money.

At the time, the Interior Minister stated that the government was concerned about the project and had initiated investigations to determine the safety and protection of the data being harvested, as well as how the harvesters planned to use the data.

WorldCoin replied to the restriction by suspending its activity in the country, claiming it was dedicated to following all relevant legislation set forth by Kenyan authorities, ensuring a safe and compliant ecosystem.

‘’In line with Kenyan laws and regulations, WorldCoin ensures full compliance and transparency in all its activities within the country. The project is committed to fostering a constructive dialogue with local stakeholders, including the government and relevant authorities, to ensure a smooth and mutually beneficial partnership,’’ it said.

In September 2023, WorldCoin CEO Alex Blania appeared before the National Assembly Ad Hoc Committee to address concerns expressed by numerous Kenyan stakeholders, including members of the public.

He informed the committee that prior to the suspension in Kenya, WorldCoin had already enlisted 350,000 users. Each recruit received 25 WorldCoin tokens, which were worth $45.

He noted that WorldCoin committed millions of dollars in Kenya before issuing the tokens in education programmes throughout the country.

This latest development comes as global interest in the cryptocurrency token continues to rise. According to CoinJournal study based on Google Trends data, Kenya emerged as the hub of enthusiasm. 

The findings show that Kenyan consumers have a significantly higher degree of curiosity than those in other nations.

The country leads the pack with a Google Trends score of 100, demonstrating a strong interest in WorldCoin and its related efforts.

WorldCoin's ambitious project, led by Sam Altman and closely linked to OpenAI's advances, seeks to transform identity verification through technology.

WorldCoin aims to offer individuals with unique digital identities by combining iris scanning technology and blockchain, addressing urgent challenges surrounding online identity verification.

Daily newsletter