No, You Shouldn’t Trade Your Eyeballs For Crypto

What could possibly go wrong?

Stephen Moore
5 min readAug 16


Image: Midjourney

This piece first appeared on my newsletter, Trend Mill. You can subscribe for free.

The crypto industry is rife with scandal, scams, rug pulls, shady characters and money-grabbing celebrities. The technology became the fundamental building block for world-changing concepts like NFTs and Web3 and other less-savory practices like helping organized crime move money and pay for illegal activities. Even the cases where it did something “well” have proven tainted — just look at golden boy Sam Bankman-Fried and the collapse of FTX, or Binance, which is now under investigation for alleged illegal practices, including fraud.

Everything remotely crypto-connected should be met with skepticism. Every new character who enters the picture claiming to “change the world” should be met with distrust until proven otherwise. None more so than the newest project on the scene, one that wants to scan your eyeballs to prove your “humanness” in return for crypto.

What could go wrong?

Worldcoin is a project co-founded by Sam Altman, the chief executive of the ChatGPT developer OpenAI. The ambitions are lofty — how else will you suck up that sweet VC money, of which Worldcoin has already raised $115 million — with the moonshot being to “enable global democratic processes” and eventually fund a universal basic income. The pitch includes the whole Buzzword Bingo card. The first line of the Whitepaper reads, “Worldcoin was founded with the mission of creating a globally-inclusive identity and financial network, owned by the majority of humanity.” Across the homepage, all the others are present; community, ownership and blockchain protocol. Check, check, check.

The project works as follows. Go to a location where an “orb” is present (the orb is the bowling ball-esque device in the feature image, without the devil horns and tail, obviously) and have it scan your eyeballs. This creates a “World ID,” which Worldcoin describes as a digital passport proving you are unique and real while remaining anonymous. In exchange, you’re granted 25 Worldcoin tokens, equivalent to approximately $50, which you can access in your crypto wallet through your smartphone. Even that figure is debatable. CoinMarketCap