The Kenyan government has ordered Worldcoin to suspend operations in the country citing privacy and security concerns.
Worldcoin is an initiative of Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. It is a digital currency that can be traded on exchanges, but which you cannot simply buy. You have to store it in an app that you have to activate by having your iris scanned. And many governments and privacy regulators are concerned about this, especially the lack of clarity about the security and storage of the data collected.
When Worldcoin launched in August this year, it encouraged signups by offering a crypto token (worth $49) to Kenyans in exchange for an iris scan, i.e. a bribe. The Kenyan government then banned the currency. Other countries in which the currency is being introduced, including France, Spain and Germany, are also keeping a close eye on this development.
M-PESA: simple and revolutionary
Now Kenya is not just any country. It is the world leader in mobile payments and leaves the rest of the world behind when it comes to technologically innovative banking services. In no other country does such a large share of the population use their phone as an electronic wallet. All thanks to the relatively simple, but revolutionary M-PESA mobile money system.
With M-PESA you can send money with your phone to affiliated merchants, other users and even to traditional banks and have money deposited into your account, often in the same store where you top up your calling credit.
You can send and receive money quickly wherever you are, an important advantage in a country where bank branches are sparse and where the transport of cash involves many risks. Customers can now also pay company invoices via their mobile phone and salaries can be paid via M-PESA. The loans that M-PESA provides are also an important stimulus for the economy, because they are granted immediately, and no collateral is required.
M-PESA has been so successful that it has now been introduced in five other countries, including South Africa, India and Romania. Currently, M-PESA is one of the largest providers of mobile financial services in Africa, with more than 52 million users. More than a third of Kenya’s GDP passes through the system.