The former head of Y Combinator wants to distribute UBI via cryptocurrency – and is testing an eye scanner that would identify recipients

In this photo illustration of the litecoin, ripple and ethereum cryptocurrency 'altcoins' sit arranged for a photograph
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  • A new cryptocurrency is aiming to distribute wealth to everyone on earth, Bloomberg reported.
  • Y Combinator’s Sam Altman thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019.
  • Now, the creators have developed a way to scan people’s irises to assign the cryptocurrency.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new cryptocurrency aims to distribute wealth to “every single person on earth” with the help of an orb-shaped device that would scan people’s irises to identify them, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Sam Altman, the former president of Y Combinator, a seed-money company that helped grow Airbnb and Dropbox among others, thought of the concept of Worldcoin in 2019 in the hopes of capitalizing on the economic idea of universal basic income, Bloomberg reported.

According to an online job listing, the new cryptocurrency is “free, frictionless and not controlled by anyone.”

Worldcoin hopes to reach mass adoption by “distributing it to everyone on earth through a novel approach: a dedicated hardware device ensuring both humanness and uniqueness of everybody signing up, while maintaining their privacy and the overall transparency of a permissionless blockchain,” the post said.

The silver, basketball-sized device would scan peoples’ irises to create a personal identifier for the coin and prevent users from defrauding the system, Bloomberg reported, adding that the creators said the image isn’t stored. Bloomberg said the device is being tested in various cities with Bitcoin because Worldcoin itself is not yet ready to hit the market.

Altman – who is one of three founders and now serves as an advisor, according to the report – did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for the story. Firms backing Worldcoin include Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm behind Coinbase. The firm also did not respond immediately to Insider.

Worldcoin has yet to be formally unveiled, Bloomberg reported, as the founders, who believe crypto could give the whole world access to financial systems, are considering how to distribute the currency to everyone.

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