Latest research indicates growing acceptance of digital currencies

Oct 14, 2021
Nearly half of finance leaders expect to be involved in exploring their potential in 2022

Positive attitudes toward digital currencies may be growing among finance leaders, according to new research published by Gartner, which shows that 47 percent intend to assess them for business in 2022.

Gartner’s latest results contrast with its Bitcoin-specific poll conducted in February 2021, which found 84 percent of finance leaders saying they would never hold the currency as a corporate asset, pointing to a range of risks associated with its holding.

The research and advisory company’s latest October 2021 research finds CFO sentiment slightly more favorable, with 50 percent saying they intend to assess the risks and opportunities of digital currencies for their organization next year.

Commenting on the findings, Alexander Bant, chief of research at Gartner, says: ‘Sentiment toward digital currencies appears to be improving among finance leaders. As digital currencies mature and successful use-cases materialize, finance leaders are looking at what their competitors are doing and whether it can be applied to their own organization.’

Despite the apparent positive shift in attitude, Bant recognizes that digital currency initiatives are likely to be future-reaching, and not likely to wholly land on the shoulders of finance leaders.

‘While the actual adoption in most corporate settings may not happen right away, it’s clear that digital currencies are beginning to make finance leaders sit up and take notice,’ he says. ‘But interest remains tentative at this stage, with around a quarter of respondents expecting their personal involvement to be quite limited and only a few percent expecting to take full leadership of digital currency initiatives.’

In giving possible reasons for the apparent shift in attitude in the space of only a few months, Gartner points out that the most-noted risk in February’s poll was the volatility of digital currencies. While this is likely to remain a key concern as finance executives assess their merits next year, the changing economic landscape – especially concerning the issue of inflation – is opening up new possibilities.

‘That equation could be altered by increased CFO concerns around inflation in more traditional currencies,’ says Bant. ‘Some digital currencies may be seen as a viable hedge in an inflationary environment, and that in turn might lead many to consider taking payment in digital form.’

Long-term future benefits of digital currencies are said to potentially include reduced fraud risk, improved ESG accountability, real-time transparent reporting and fast, more accurate audits.

Gartner also points to the potential of blockchain – a digital ledger in which each cryptographically signed record contains a timestamp and reference links to previous transactions – for organizations where digital currencies may not be suitable.

‘While adoption of digital currencies based on blockchain might not happen in the near future for many organizations, it’s perhaps easier to see how business blockchains shared between organizations can provide CFOs with opportunities to lower operational costs and drive efficiencies,’ says Bant.

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