The government of Kenya has directed an immediate shutdown of operations by the cryptocurrency project Worldcoin in the country.
Kenya’s Financial Reporting Centre warned that Worldcoin poses potential criminal risks related to identity theft and violations of privacy laws.
This order comes after Worldcoin allegedly ignored previous cease and desist notices from Kenyan authorities in August 2022.
Worldcoin Accused of Flouting Warnings
According to Kenya’s reporting center, Worldcoin defied orders earlier this year to halt enrollments requiring Kenyans to submit iris scans to receive crypto airdrops.
The agency stated Worldcoin continued signing up users in Kenya despite authorities flagging privacy and data collection concerns.
Now Kenya has outright banned Worldcoin operations and ordered an investigation into possible illegal activities associated with the project.
Retinal Scans Raise Data Privacy Fears
Worldcoin relies on a controversial retinal scanning app to verify users are unique individuals before airdropping free crypto tokens.
While meant to deter bots and fake signups, privacy advocates argue forcibly collecting biometric data to participate in a digital currency presents alarming risks of identity theft.
Kenya warned that gathering citizens’ sensitive personal information could enable criminal abuse and violations of data protections.
Calls for Crypto Regulation in Kenya
As crypto adoption grows across Africa, Kenya underscored the urgent need for sensible regulations to deter illicit crypto activity.
The country advised implementing clear frameworks for digital assets, taxation, consumer protection and transparency standards.
This would encourage innovation in the still-nascent crypto space while mitigating dangers like those posed by Worldcoin’s invasive data gathering.
For now, Kenya’s harsh crackdown on Worldcoin’s operations reflects wider struggles balancing emerging crypto technologies with ethics and compliance. But thoughtful policies can help foster responsible growth.