by Owen Fernau
WLD Token Trades At FDV Of $22B While Vitalik Buterin and ZachXBT Raise Concerns
One of crypto’s most controversial projects has stepped further into the limelight.
On Monday, the Worldcoin Foundation, the company behind the identity-focused Worldcoin protocol, launched its WLD token and announced plans to significantly increase the availability of its iris-scanning Orb.
A little over a day after launch, WLD is trading at $2.23 with a market capitalization of $241M. That’s greater than household names in DeFi like Yearn Finance’s YFI, and Balancer’s BAL. The fully diluted valuation of the project stands at an astounding $22B, but it should be noted that only 5% of the token’s 10B supply has been released into circulation.
The slew of product announcements represents a major shift from a testing phase to one where Worldcoin’s contributors are stepping on the gas pedal.
Tiago Sada, the head of product, engineering, and design at Tools for Humanity, a key company which is driving Worldcoin’s growth along with the eponymous Foundation, told The Defiant he is excited to see the project finally get into more people’s hands.
“These [launches] allow us to get other people involved in the project in a much more extreme way,” he told The Defiant on Friday. Sada emphasized that an open software kit (SDK) would allow developers to create yet-unimagined applications using the World ID, Worldcoin’s identity solution.
“I think it will be really exciting to see the community start to be able to influence things a lot more,” he said.
Worldcoin is one of the most divisive projects in crypto. The project centers around the World ID, whose full functionality is unlocked when a person scans their iris using one of Worldcoin’s hundreds – and soon to be thousands – of trademark Orbs.
The project is now moving into the public eye. Developers are able to build with a new tool which theoretically allows them to ascertain whether a unique human is behind an account. This will put many of the assumptions about the value of a universal ID to the test.
And the newly minted token, WLD, provides something for crypto traders to discuss and speculate on. The token may also form part of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme — Sam Altman, the co-founder of Worldcoin and CEO of Open AI, which developed the extremely influential ChatGPT messaging application, has spoken repeatedly of the potential need to pay people not for their work, but for their existence, as AI may make many jobs obsolete.
In order to distribute a UBI, the thinking goes, there must be a way to establish “proof of personhood” which would stop people from gaming the system.
Vitalik Weighs In
Worldcoin’s announcement saw its share of backers and detractors. Vitalik Buterin, the influential founder of Ethereum, penned an essay weighing the pros and cons of Worldcoin’s use of biometric data to establish personhood online.
Buterin highlighted that a decentralized solution to the “unique-human problem” would be very valuable to enable voting applications online and also prevent huge amounts of spam.
But the Ethereum founder also stressed that Worldcoin’s plans are not without flaws — a malicious manufacturer of Orbs could potentially introduce a way to create fake identities, for example.
He went on to say that Worldcoin isn’t the only “proof of personhood” project with issues — identity solutions, in general, have unsolved problems — these include ways to prevent people from selling their identities and even fake identities which might arise from “3D printed people.”
Concerns raised by ZachXBT, the well-known “on-chain sleuth,” caught the attention of social media.
‘Predatory’ Token Design
The Defiant followed up with Zach, who highlighted WLD’s tokenomics as a major area of concern. “I find the token design to be predatory,” he said, emphasizing that the circulating supply of the token was much lower than its fully diluted valuation, the market capitalization of a token when it has been fully unlocked.
Projects with low circulating supply relative to their eventual supply usually see more selling pressure as more tokens enter circulation. Sometimes, less sophisticated investors don’t know this, making them willing to hold a digital asset longer than is prudent — as tokens allocated to a project’s investors or team members unlock, those entities can sell the assets into liquidity supported by unwitting holders.
Just over 500M, or 5% of WLD’s total supply of 10B tokens, are currently circulating, according to a dashboard developed by the Worldcoin team. WLD has a market capitalization of over $200M, at the time of writing, but its FDV is over $20B.
Zach also noted that WLD’s tokenomics were geofenced, meaning that internet users from certain locations couldn’t access the site. The Defiant was unable to access Worldcoin’s tokenomics from the United States.
‘Important For The World’
Sada, on the other hand, emphasized that Worldcoin’s backers aren’t chasing superficial metrics. “I don’t think you scale this because you want to see the dashboard go up,” he said. “You scale it because you think this is important for the world.”
Zach had other criticisms of Worldcoin, noting that a market for selling World IDs had already sprouted up.
Sada didn’t deny that the project hadn’t had its hiccups. “Obviously, nothing like this has ever been tried,” he said. “And so just as we’ve learned at every step of the way for the past three years, I’m sure we will have to continue learning.”
Regardless of the debate, Worldcoin does have a significant amount of users relative to most crypto applications.
Sada said that in Lisbon, Portugal, an area where Worldcoin’s backers have focused, over 5% of the population has a World ID. “Generally, people in crypto are super impressed by the fact that we have already onboarded 2 million people to the protocol, but actually, that’s quite small compared to what we’re trying to accomplish.”