In June 2023, Worldcoin introduced its token in Kenya, a move that brought the world of cryptocurrencies to an unfamiliar audience. The launch, featuring airdrops of Worldcoin tokens to holders, triggered a rapid surge in verification requests and trading activities in Nairobi, driven by the enticing reward of Ksh. 7,000 upon verification. These events sparked debates on data security and the country’s economic landscape, ultimately leading to the government’s decision to close Worldcoin’s registration activity in Nairobi just ten days after the launch. To get a glimpse of the implication of cryptocurrency projects in Kenya, I set out to Kibera slums to engage some of the locals who partook in the world coin activities.
Chairman Alpha Otieno, ” Money giveaway projects in Kibera was not unprecedented, we are used accustomed to various initiatives of this nature. With worldcoin, the agents came and set up their stations and residents were provided with Ksh. 50 in exchange for undergoing eye scans, which attracted individuals from diverse age groups to line up for very long hours just to get the free fifty shillings, due to the prevalent poverty in the area. There was no explanation provided about world coin or cryptocurrency in general, which made me concerned of the peoples security and the legitimacy of the project, they solely sought to scan people’s eyes in return for Ksh. 50.” He urged the government to enhance its efforts in investigating and regulating such companies, as they failed even to register participants on the app, instead promising to send a link via SMS to anyone with a phone number.
Jaymosh Xtinguisher, “Kenyans often prefer ready-made solutions, without much concern for what might come later, as we tend to focus on our daily struggles. There were many rumours that the money we received on the app would grow, but once I arrived at the stations, the agents did not provide clear information or guide us on how to operate the app, tokens. Instead, they only scanned our eyes, took our phone & ID number and gave we received Ksh. 50. Many people I know still rushed to register at various stations outside of Kibera once they closed down people are hungry. Upon learning about others receiving Ksh. 7,000 this year I felt very shortchanged.
Mama Gift recounted the experience, ” I typically values money earned through her the work of my hands. I observed a multitude of people going to get registered for something, but no one seemed to have clear information about it. There were various speculations, including notions of women’s empowerment programs and NGOs from the West. Given the mixed reputation of previous micro-grant projects, I had reservations but I knew someone involved in this particular project who convinced me to line up. They didn’t provide us with much other information, they said they would send us a link to the app via sms, and that was it. I used my 50 shillings to buy a cob of Maize.”
Sharon, a single parent of one rencounts, “One Thursday morning in July this year, my friend called me and invited me to join a gig that promised Ksh.1000. There were six of us, and we headed to Yaya Center. We patiently queued up, went through the scanning process, but when it came time to cash out with someone recommended to us, we were informed that the systems were down, and we should return on Friday. The following Friday, he told us to come back on Monday. On Monday, he took our phones, worked through them, and said that we’d get our money on Mpesa later on, which never happened. The individuals who registered us failed to provide any information, leaving us in the dark about what happened to our coins after that.”
Music rapper collins, ” I have a little knowledge and curiosity when it comes to cryptocurrencies. I encountered the worldcoin agents at the mall in Karen around the month of January. Intrigued by their token, I underwent iris scanning and successfully claimed my tokens. With the most recent airdrop I managed to cash out Ksh. 7,000 and saved up the remaining tokens on the app. I still don’t know much about this digital money world, I have a few crypto survey friends who teach me a few things but I believe that beneath the surface of this digital realm lies a vast and intricate landscape that I will continue to journey towards, discover and learn the ever changing world of digital finance I think many more young youths especially need to be familiarised with cryptocurnecies, there is a lot to gain.