Fintech company offers Berliners 50 euros for their retina scans

Fintech company offers Berliners 50 euros for their retina scans

Berliners looking to sell the windows to their soul to the latest cryptocurrency company can head down to Alexanderplatz and cash in for 50 euros. Don’t spend it all at once!

Tools for Humanity orbs demoed in Alexa mall

Financial tech company Tools for Humanity, a cryptocurrency startup founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and German entrepreneur Alex Blania, has launched demonstrations of their eye-scanning orbs in Berlin’s Alexa shopping centre. 

Passersby can now gift an image of their iris, which the company claims will not be stored, in exchange for 50 euros worth of tokens for Worldcoin, the cryptocurrency connected to Tools for Humanity. Since the project launched worldwide the international company says it has scanned the irises of 2,1 million people. 

Using the biometric data, Tools for Humanity says it will create a unique ID for each person who scans their retina. If the system is widely adopted, this ID would help social media platforms to differentiate between humans and bots, Blania told the New York Times.

Based in both Berlin and San Francisco, Tools for Humanity launched the self-proclaimed “world-changing project” in New York in July. If all goes to plan for Altman and Blania, the orbs will scan the eyeballs of eight billion people i.e. the entire population of the planet.

Altman and Blania say the orbs will provide universal basic income

Alongside working as an identification tool to distinguish between robot and human being, Altman and Blania have suggested that their company could help to distribute a universal basic income (UBI) in the future, which would be funded by Worldcoin.

Speaking to the NYT Blania said that profits made in the AI industry in the future could be “redistributed within society”. “What Worldcoin does is it gives everyone, not just people in Europe or the United States, an identity, and it gives them a way to be economically reachable.” Altman has floated the idea that everyone who uses the company's AI ID system would in future be able to receive a UBI through the platform, but the entrepreneur is yet to clarify how exactly the UBI payment would be funded.

But critics of Altman and Blania’s venture are more inclined to believe that the pair’s vision of the fintech future has an intentionally blind optimism. “Powerful figures like Mr. Altman are seeking to profit in a tumultuous period, creating moneymaking ventures to mitigate the negative effects of A.I., even as they aggressively develop the technology,” NYT reporter David Yaffe-Bellany wrote. 

German data watchdog investigates Worldcoin

For now, Worldcoin hasn’t won the hearts of German authorities either. At the end of July, the State Office for Data Protection Supervision in Bavaria announced that it has been investigating Worldcoin since 2022 due to concerns about the firm processing biometric data.

"These technologies are at first sight neither established nor well analysed for the specific core purpose of the processing in the field of transferring financial information," the president of the state regulator Micheal Will told Reuters.

German authorities are not alone, with France’s privacy watchdog telling Reuters that Woldcoin’s project “seems questionable”. Meanwhile in Kenya, the government has suspended all Worldcoin activities in the country while it interrogates the “safety and protection of data being harvested and how the harvesters intend to use the data.”

Thumb image credit: Rokas Tenys /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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