Can the evolution of Bitcoins sustain accounting?


Dubbed the ‘currency of the people’, Bitcoin is a widely recognised form of digital currency created and held electronically. It enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Created in 2009, Bitcoin is as electronic payment system based purely on mathematical proof.  It is anonymous, transparent and easy to set up. Transaction fees are minimal and you can send money anywhere, at any time and it will arrive minutes later. Moreover, the Bitcoin transaction network is safe and sound. It verifies transactions with state-of-the-art encryption. Users can hold numerous Bitcoin addresses. Normally, these addresses are not linked to names or any other personally identifying information. It is decentralised, in other words, the Bitcoin network is not controlled by one central authority. Nobody owns it. In principle, Bitcoin has a lot going for it.  ACCA’s 100 Drivers of Change for the Global Accountancy Profession document cites the virtual “Economy” as a significant driver of change. According the document, virtual reality offers the potential for going a step further and immersing oneself in a manner that enables the delivery of multi-sensory experiences.

As of late, it has been whispered that Bitcoin could possibly replace four career fields. One of these professions is accounting. It appears that Bitcoin could, in reality, be used to automate quite a few accounting functions and in some cases, it may possibly do a better job than human accountants. But can Bitcoins really replace accountants? This question has indeed raised a few eyebrows. Bitcoin remains a niche area, generally followed by the dyed-in-the-wool, techno savvy few. A considerable number of entities in technologically advanced nations are incorporating Bitcoins little by little. According to ACCA’s report on Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change, accountants and finance professionals must be open to the changes created by digital currency.

“The accounting and financial profession can initiate a more proactive response to digital technologies. By embracing technological advances, the profession can actively reshape it, rather than simply being reshaped by it.”-  Karen Smal, Acting Head of ACCA.

However, the usage of Bitcoins has not quite received sufficient acceptance in Africa. Many individuals are still not sold on the notion of investing money in a form of virtual currency. Interestingly, South Africa as well as a number of other emerging market countries has voiced a keen interest in setting up Africa’s first Bitcoin ATM.

Realistically, Bitcoins may never replace accountants. Alternatively, Bitcoins may contribute greatly to sustainable accounting. By automating complex transactions and improving cash flow management Bitcoins could increase productivity. Bitcoins might also broaden access to financial resources and investment opportunities plus expand the market as a result cultivating industry growth. It promotes elements such transparency which contributes further to sustainable practices. For the accountancy profession, adoption of intelligent tools that can analyse and interpret large volumes of data rapidly could transform activities such as audit and forensic accounting.

Bitcoins are indeed growing in acceptance around the world and might be one of the world’s most important developments. Frankly, the evolution of Bitcoin may perhaps revolutionise the accounting and financial profession and will undoubtedly streamline and optimise the industry.