In brief

  • The World Economic Forum has said Colombia will trial an Ethereum blockchain anti-corruption project.
  • Colombia is focusing on a school meals benefits program—which has previously been targeted by thieves—to make government procurement more transparent.
  • Other Latin American countries also are looking to blockchain tech to combat corruption.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is trialling a blockchain transparency project with the Colombian government in order to fight corruption in the South American country. 

A report published today says that along with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Office of the Inspector General of Colombia, the WEF will use the Ethereum public blockchain to create a proof-of-concept—a trial to test the design idea—to combat corruption. 

The idea is that by using the Ethereum blockchain, the Colombian government will be able to make “corruption-prone government processes” more transparent. They will start by focusing on the Programa de Alimentación Escolar (PAE), a public-school meal program. 


Corruption has long plagued Colombia. The country’s government has itself estimated that  corruption costs Colombia a staggering $18 billion a year. 

The school meal program has likely been chosen by the WEF as such benefits have previously been stolen in the country. In 2016, a food company was accused of embezzling funds for school meals in one of Colombia’s poorest provinces.

According to the report, the “vast majority of PAE vendors are selected via direct contracting which maximizes opportunities for corrupt practices and minimizes transparency in programme administration.” 

The project aims to increase transparency in public procurement in Colombia in the trial. The WEF can then reproduce the methods elsewhere to tackle corruption. 

Colombia isn’t the only South American country looking to the blockchain to help fight government corruption—last year Peru announced that it had partnered with a blockchain startup to build a fully transparent, contract-procurement system. 


The Colombian government’s demand for the Ethereum blockchain comes at a time when there is strong interest in the technology in South America. In May, the Ethereum Foundation announced it would hold its annual event, Devcon, next year in Bogotá.

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