Corruption is a deeply entrenched vice in many countries worldwide. It has become a nagging threat to government and international security. However, blockchain technology has the potential to bring the activity to a minimum.
While it might not eradicate corruption completely, it is believed that blockchain and related technologies could help governments minimize graft and fraud.
Could Blockchain be effective against corruption?
Governments worldwide need budgets, ledgers, and databases. Blockchain technology comes with an exposed ledger that is not confined to one quarter. Speaking of how the technology could help minimize corruption in South Africa, economist Jeffery Dinham writes:
“In South Africa, where corruption has blighted the image of Africa’s most advanced economy, the exposed ledger offers a solution that could be applied across state departments and perhaps even beyond the border.”
In the absence of blockchain technology, governments use universal record keeping strategies, which are frequently riddled with fraud and corruption. Due to lack of transparency, governments find it difficult to trace fraudulent activities in their systems. In the end, the ledgers and databases end up with unnecessary alterations. Blockchain technology seeks to fill this gap. The technology embraces a distributed network that locks in data and makes it easy to verify and to audit.
No centralized database
According to Coindesk Guide on how blockchain works, “It represents an innovation information registration and distribution that eliminates the need for a trusted party to facilitate digital relationships.”
Blockchain establishes a digital identity in a distributed ledger, a step that enhances transparency and hinders the growth of corrupt practices. With the technology, participants are able to track and verify transactions even without the need for centralized banks.
Some countries have already implemented blockchain fully or partially across various state departments. For example, Honduras is on record as one country that has used blockchain to seal off its public land registry from fraudsters.
Professionals agree that databases, ledgers, and overall transactions in developing countries are prone to manipulations by corrupt individuals and systems. With a shared ledger, there will be only one source of truth, which ensures that all transactions and information shared remain consistent and error-free. Another country to follow in the footstep of Honduras is Georgia, which has managed its land titles using blockchain technology without corruption settling in.
Teaming up with a startup company BitFury, the Georgian civil service has mobilized government workers to monitor closely property rights and issuance of titles. Using the technology, the country is able to make timely audits as opposed to once-a-year strategy. Besides, it provides the opportunity for the citizens to connect with the registry through their smart phones at affordable rates and more efficiently.
With improved connectivity, there is improved transparency and watchdog institutions and the media can be able to identify and shine more light on corrupt practices. According to Forbes, Georgia ranked 44th on Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, after initiating blockchain technology. In 2003, Georgia had ranked 123rd on the same index.
Lack of basic amenities such as clean water, electricity, and infrastructure in Africa has promoted various organizations to disperse hundreds of millions of dollars to African countries. While this fund is meant to initiate development programs, it often attracts corruption at various levels. As Nigerian Bitcoin expert points out: “Allegations of corruption at various levels usually leads to inflation of (project) contracts despite low (tax) revenues for most of these developing countries.”
Experts believe that blockchain technology can alleviate the project expense inflation and lack of transparency in contract procedures. For instance, Ghana is already collaborating with Bitland, a blockchain-based company, to protect property rights in the country. Bitland embraces “decentralized models such as Bitcoin’s blockchain to bridge the gap between the government and undocumented areas.” Blockchain offers an effective customer management system that provides a peaceful way to settle disputes among government departments, citizens, and organizations. According to information on Bitland’s website, blockchain technology will enable individuals and bureaucracies to “have more control over their data, and the public ledger will verify the integrity of records without sacrificing the privacy of users.”
How Blockchain will protect consumers
Already in some countries, blockchain technology is protecting consumers in various sectors. For example, UAE Emirates Islamic Bank currently the technology to thwart fraudulent check writers. The bank uses the system to verify the Quick Response code on each check leaf. The QR codes enable the registration ledger to confirm that each of them is genuine. Similarly, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, which is the biggest bank in Japan, has embraced digitization checks on a blockchain to control check fraud in their pilot project with Singapore central bank and Hitachi Group.
Fighting corruption requires more than blockchain
Even with the benefits it offers, blockchain technology should work with other resources to fight corruption. For example, citizens need to adopt other digital applications other than the blockchain to control the vice. Morocco, for example, has implemented an anti-corruption strategy that reports fraud and graft regarding the government. Similarly, Indonesia has launched a public watchdog that runs a log of public corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and bribery.
Information published on pcquest.com reveals that data miners working at international development banks can utilize big data analytics software to spy on government behavior when bureaucracies “issue bids and identify patterns of deceit or collusion or corrupt intent in transactions.”
Blockchain technology shows promise when it comes to fighting corruption. However, with close to 200 countries across the world, it will require a concerted effort of everyone to bring the vice of corruption to a complete halt. While the steel curtain of the blockchain technology might seem far, with regional and international cooperation the fruits will be realized.
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Tony is a writer for the crypto space. He presents cryptocurrency and blockchain topics to the public in a way that he only can. While carefully researched, this article should not be taken as an express investment guide. Do your own research and consult a financial advisor before you invest in cryptocurrency.