Discover more from Tiger Research Reports
Worldcoin in Asia: Overview and Outlook
Privacy concerns over sensitive data collection
Worldcoin is gaining popularity around the world, with the most interest coming from Asian countries including India, Indonesia, Australia, and Japan (32% of all users in the pre-launch phase of Worldcoin).
This is because of the following reasons:
The Asian region includes many developing countries with low per capita income levels.
There is a high level of understanding and interest in cryptocurrencies in major Asian countries.
There are many exchanges in Asia that people can use to cash out Worldcoin.
While there are ongoing privacy violation investigations in Western countries over the collection of biometric data by Worldcoin, there has been no significant regulatory intervention in Asia as of yet. However, with the steady increase in the number of users, it is possible that major Asian countries will start to enforce privacy laws against Worldcoin in the near future.
Thanks for reading Tiger Research Reports ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Worldcoin, which officially launched in July 2023, continues to attract a lot of attention. Argentina set a new record of nearly 10,000 Worldcoin registrants within a single day, a testament to the hype of the project. There are about 120 countries where users have created Worldcoin IDs, and 34 countries where users have authenticated their iris information through the “Orb”, a biometric data collection machine provided by Worldcoin.
Asia’s interest in Worldcoin
As such, Worldcoin is growing in a global scale and gaining popularity around the world. The Asian market in particular has shown significant interest. In fact, during the pre-launch phase of Worldcoin (May 2021 - July 2023), Asia was the region with the most users, accounting for approximately 32%.
Asian interest in Worldcoin has continued to grow since its official launch in July 2023. A look at the regional traffic to the official Worldcoin project page over the past three months shows that the Asia-Pacific region accounts for approximately 29% of the traffic. In addition to these figures, we can also see a glimpse of the enthusiasm for Worldcoin at the offline Worldcoin biometric enrollment site in Japan in July this year.
When we look at the breakdown of Worldcoin traffic in Asia, we see that India, Indonesia, Australia, and Japan have the most interest, in that order. There are three possible reasons why these Asian countries are so enthusiastic about Worldcoin.
First, the Asian region is home to many developing countries with low per capita income levels, so a project that provides a basic income is bound to attract attention. The Worldcoin project gives users 25 Worldcoins when they go through their initial iris verification, which is equivalent to one-fifth of the average monthly salary in India.
Second, there are many countries in Asia with a high rate of crypto-savvy population. This includes, but is not limited to:
India, which recently lifted its ban on crypto
Indonesia, which has established a government-led crypto exchange
Japan, where the government is trying to revitalize the crypto industry
Hong Kong, which has opened its crypto market
Lastly, Asia has the most exchanges where you can trade and cash out your Worldcoin for fiat currency. South Korea, Turkey, and Thailand are a few examples.
Global concerns about Worldcoin
However, there are also some concerns regarding the project. The UK, France, and Germany have launched investigations into whether Worldcoin is following due legal process when collecting sensitive biometric information. The Kenyan government has even requested the suspension of Worldcoin operations in the country, citing concerns over the collection of sensitive information.
November 2022, Bavarian State Office for Data Protection (BayLDA) opens Worldcoin investigation in Germany
July 2023, UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) launches Worldcoin investigation
August 2023, Argentine Agency for Access to Public Information (AAIP) launches investigation into the legality of Worldcoin data collection
August 2023, Kenyan government establishes parliamentary committee to investigate Worldcoin and raids Worldcoin offices
September 2023, Portuguese Data Protection Agency (CNPD) launches Worldcoin investigation
September 2023, French Data Protection Agency (CNIL) launches investigation into Worldcoin's Paris office
Asian regulators and Worldcoin
In contrast to these developments in the West, there has been no substantial regulatory scrutiny regarding Worldcoin in Asia. This is likely due to the fact that Worldcoin does not yet officially operate in Asian countries or have previous criminal records. It is difficult for regulators to overhaul or reimpose restrictions on Worldcoin’s iris data collection based on mere suspicion alone. This is because sensitive information, such as biometric data, poses less of a problem in major Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, as long as it is used with explicit consent and for the stated purpose.
This may soon change. The number of users in Asia is steadily increasing, and Worldcoin is showing intentions to provide practical services to its users. Therefore, it is expected that the legality of data collection for Worldcoin will be investigated in Asian countries in the near future. Furthermore, there is a high probability that the results will reflect the result of the investigations in countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom.
Biometric information is considered highly sensitive in the modern world, and even a single leak can cause serious problems. Hence, the current discussion on the collection and processing of personal data by Worldcoin is an important one and needs to be handled with care. The main concerns are as follows.
The safety of the iris data collection machine, and the possibility of a backdoor
Safety concerns regarding Worldcoin’s storage of iris data. To date, Worldcoin has stated that it is in compliance with the European privacy law GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). However, without a more specific explanation, the concerns are not expected to be put to rest easily.
Participate in our 1-minute survey to help improve our weekly reports. As a thank you, you can download Tiger Research's original "2023 Country Crypto Matrix" spreadsheet, an all-in-one spreadsheet for the global virtual asset market analysis after finishing the survey.