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Ethereum-Based Anti-Corruption Project Set for Trial in Colombia

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Blockchain technology may offer a solution for countries looking to get rid of corruption while increasing transparency in their governments, a recently published report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests.

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According to the report, titled Exploring Blockchain Technology for Government Transparency, the use of blockchains can offer “several unparalleled qualities and capabilities,” which are particularly useful in the fight against corruption related to government procurement.

As such, the WEF is looking to create a proof-of-concept for how the technology can be used by countries to fight corruption.

Specifically, the report looked at how a publicly funded school-meal program in Colombia could be implemented in a way that minimizes corruption, by using the Ethereum blockchain. It said that this specific school-meal program was selected for the blockchain trial because vendors are generally chosen based on “direct contracting,” which it says “maximizes opportunities for corrupt practices and minimizes transparency.”

Further, the WEF also said that the trial will “study the benefits of a permissionless blockchain for public procurement and anti-corruption use cases” more broadly.

Colombia is among the many South American countries with a long history of corruption in the public sector, despite efforts to bring an end to the practice.

Blockchain has properties that make it “a high potential emerging technology to address corruption,” says WEF.

“Using cryptography and distributed consensus mechanisms, blockchain provides the unique combination of permanent and tamper-evident record-keeping, transaction transparency and auditability, automated functions with ‘smart contracts’, and the reduction of centralized authority and information ownership within processes,” the report said.

If trials with the Ethereum blockchain turns out to be successful, the WEF said it hopes its work will lay the foundation for similar “experimentation, innovation and adoption” in other countries around the world in the future.

The report, published on Wednesday, was authored by the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain and Digital Currency team, in partnership with the Office of the Inspector General of Colombia, as well as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Learn more: Can Blockchain Be a Driver of Transparency in Governance?