Accountants Embrace Distributed Ledgers

Technologies associated with cryptocurrencies are going mainstream even if cryptos aren't.

Major accounting consultancies have been advising clients on blockchain implementation, and now they’re embracing the technology for themselves, too. Given the recent accounting-sector embarrassments, it is perhaps no surprise that accounting firms are adopting blockchain technology, which promises immutable accounting—and accountability.

You can see Deloitte’s excitement in its Tech Trends 2019 report, published in January, which prominently features blockchain: “Blockchain is to trust what the web was to communication, a profoundly disruptive technology that transforms not only business, but the way humans transact and engage.”

Well-designed blockchains are fast, powerful databases, more efficient at delivering information than legacy accounting software. Data entry has a lower risk of error and smart contracts can automate many accounting tasks, reducing costs. The immutability of the blockchain makes it difficult to perpetrate fraud, which can greatly simplify a company’s burden in meeting regulatory requirements.

Deloitte and others have recently been launching blockchain applications that deal with the most pressing challenges found in the delivery of auditing services. EY built EY Blockchain Analyzer, which is able to pick up and organize the encrypted transactions of any organization, making it possible to carry out simple external auditing checks. KPMG Digital Ledger Services help companies tap blockchain benefits, with its main users likely to be banks and financial institutions. PwC has recently announced its intention to offer blockchain-enhanced auditing services, focusing on an implementation of third-party solutions.

“Blockchain is still relatively new, so we don’t have all the answers yet,” says Steve Saah, executive director for Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “But it clearly has the potential to have a big impact on the accounting profession.”