How Cryptocurrency is Disrupting the Finance & Accounting Industry
Since 2009, cryptocurrency has been a trend the finance and accounting industry has wearily been watching – and responding to. Reactions have ranged from, “this is a scam,” to “this should be regulated,” to “this might be something we can implement,” to “this can’t replace us, can it?” – and everything in between.
Of the most skeptical are finance and accounting leaders. In fact, in 2017 the CNBC Global CFO Council found that 30 percent of members surveyed felt like cryptocurrency was a fraud. And in 2019, uncertainty is still afoot. Earlier this year, PayPal CFO John Rainey was quoted in Yahoo Finance saying, “We have teams clearly working on blockchain and cryptocurrency as well, and we want to take part in that in whatever form that takes in the future — I just think it’s a little early on right now.”
Despite Waning Opinions, Cryptocurrency Continues to Disrupt
When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin ten years ago, shortly after the financial crisis of 2007-2008, he envisioned a peer-to-peer financial system where third-party institutions would no longer be needed in order to a make transaction. Today there are countless cryptocurrencies changing the way individuals transact with one another. There’s the original cryptocurrency, Bitcoin – and if you’re still unsure about how the decentralized, digital currency actually works, check out this article, Beginners Guide: What is Bitcoin? to get up to speed. But there’s also Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and Stellar, to name a few. Even Facebook is trying their hand at cryptocurrency – with their version, Libra.
Undoubtedly, cryptocurrency is having a profound impact on one of the world’s largest industries, finance, but its implications are much more universal. Arguably, this form of cutting-edge financial technology is touching the lives of just about everyone.
As a finance and accounting professional, hiring manager, or amateur cryptocurrency enthusiast, here’s what you need to know:
- Cryptocurrency isn’t going away. Transparency Market Research expects the global cryptocurrency market to grow by a spectacular 31.3 percent compounded annually between 2017 and 2025.
- Twenty-five percent (25%) of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked, meaning they have a primary bank account but use non-traditional financial services like pawn shops, payday and auto title loans, check cashers and money transfer services. Cryptocurrency could fill the obvious gap, even if just for some, and be wildly successful.
- More than 60 percent of CFOs plan to use blockchain within two years. For quick reference, blockchain is the “system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.” (Google Definition)
It’s safe to say, in some form or fashion, cryptocurrency will continue to make its way into the financial lives of individuals and businesses alike. And the talent taking on this trend are anything but your typical finance or accounting professional.
Staffing for an Unknown Future in Finance & Accounting
Cryptocurrency is just the latest change to happen in the world of finance and accounting. In recent years, the careers of those in the industry has continued to expand – both in complexity and in consequence.
Here’s what’s on the horizon for today’s finance and accounting professional:
Increased automation. Cryptocurrency is another way in which finance and accounting is going digital. Automation is the way of the future of finance. It will be important for anyone coming into the field, and especially true for those looking to maintain relevance, to embrace technology. As an industry, finance and accounting continues to transform – adapting with it will be important.
Something new to learn. FinTech, or financial technology, is the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services (Wikipedia). As a broad course of study, programs and certificates are making their way into curriculums around the world to train and certify professionals who will answer the calling to become FinTech pros. Be on the lookout for certifications and other continuing education courses to get trained up on.
New levels of security and regulation. Accompanying all of the innovations in cryptocurrency, and FinTech in general, is also increased risk. Congruently, cybersecurity – that is, the systems that prevent cyber-attacks and data breaches – is also developing and becoming more sophisticated. So, too, are the laws regulating this new form of finance. Staying ahead of individuals and organizations with malicious intentions will prove to be a never-ending, full-time job, and one that finance and accounting professionals will also need to stay in the know about.
The career trajectory of those in the finance and accounting profession – and those looking to join its ranks – continues to expand into unchartered territories. There is both an enticing fluidity and an established need for those passionate about the combination of financial and technical know-how. The industry is booming, transforming, and subsequently teeming with endless opportunities.