Free cash? Inside the Worldcoin craze giving Kenyans sleepless nights


Mercelyne Nanjala Muliro scans her iris to create personal, secure identification codes as part of requirement while registering as a member of the new Worldcoin cryptocurrency at KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

Even as the government suspended the ongoing collection of personal data from Kenyans by Worldcoin until all security concerns are addressed, the Worldcoin continues to give Kenyans sleepless nights.

Many Kenyans have been readily handing over their personal details to get Worldcoin reward and trade it in for cash, even with little information about the cryptocurrency world.

On Monday and Tuesday, the exercise took place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) where thousands of Kenyans turned up for the free tokens.

While the main purpose of Worldcoin is to give customers access to the economy and become beneficiaries in the world of AI technology, it’s clear that the majority of Kenyans don’t have sufficient information about it.


Kenyans queue at KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023, to register for the Worldcoin cryptocurrency.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

So how does it work?

All you need to do is have a smartphone and download the Worldcoin application to register.

Your registration is then completed through the scanning process, which requires you to visit the centre and stand before an orb that records your details.

The orb, according to one of the agents at the KICC who declined to be identified, is the biometric scanning object that looks like an eyeball, which is used to scan the iris to verify that customers are indeed human, thus enabling them to have the World ID.

Orb system, according to the agents, can scan many iris per day depending with the network stability.

Once the user has been identified as human by the system, he/she will receive a message congratulating him/her for joining Worldcoin, and they will be awarded with a token of the cryptocurrency.


Kenyans queue at KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023 to register for the Worldcoin cryptocurrency.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

With the token, which has a value of Sh7,000, the user can choose to use it to trade online by purchasing items or even exchange it for other cryptocurrencies.

At the KICC, Worldcoin agents were on hand earlier in the week to assist users who want to cash out their tokens, which is not an easy process.

Again, the user needs to open a Binance account, an online exchange where users can trade cryptocurrencies.

After creating the Binance account, which is known as a crypto wallet, the user will then deposit their Worldcoin and sell it for the Kenyan shilling. The user then withdraws the money using M-Pesa.


Worldcoin trader displays a placard advertising his business outside KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023, as hundreds of Kenyans showed up to register for the new cryptocurrency Worldcoin.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

At KICC, some traders, such as Daniel Obanga, have been buying the Worldcoins from newly registered members on the spot.

While the majority of people willing to be scanned are unemployed, Mr Obanga has employed himself through the cryptocurrency system.

Mr Obanga says he buys a single Worldcoin at Sh260 and that at the end of the day he will have made a profit of at least Sh25,000.

However, he admits that cryptocurrency trading is not a walk in the park as traders have to look for customers and convince them to register first.

Kuna wenye tumetafuta asubuhi na kuwaleta huku ili tupate kitu wakishamaliziwa. Unawaambia tu wakuje uwapatie kitu kidogo ili nawe upate hizo coins (We had to look for people this morning and convince them to register so that we can buy the coins from them),” he said.


Kenyans queue at the KICC in Nairobi on August 1 2023, to register for the Worldcoin Cryptocurrency.

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Efforts to speak to Worldcoin’s PR agent in Kenya were unsuccessful as he promised to get back to us later.

However, Kenyan lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui has expressed his dissatisfaction with the DPC’s office, saying that Kenyans are being blindly enrolled into the system, which could put their privacy at risk.