How Blockchain Is Transforming Accounting, Auditing and Finance: A Systematic Review SpringerLink

By combining machine-learning methods with more traditional approaches, we were able to draw a holistic picture of the critical advances and trends in the corpus of literature. The results indicate that the most widely discussed topics are the changing role of accountants, new challenges for auditors, the opportunities and challenges of blockchain technology application, and the regulation of cryptoassets. The sources studied indicate theoretical implications for 47% of the cases, mainly in future research.

  • But it’s just going to require more expertise and making sure things are configured right.
  • She was a visiting fellow and a guest lecturer at several Universities in Japan, Russia, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong and Iran.
  • Listerine managers use blockchain to assure the provenance of input and to facilitate better coordination and trust between members.
  • The second strand of research is based on verification and possible processes based on public or private blockchain, which companies could use to share audit firms’ audit processes.
  • In the case of auditors, blockchain makes it possible to validate and request clarifications immediately by resolving errors or identifying potential attempts at corruption and fraud (Birch and Parulava, 2017; Horner and Ryan, 2019).
  • Table 3 shows the total citation counts for the top 10 articles as listed in Google Scholar citations (5 March 2021).

There’s been firms doing work in the cryptoasset category, but now this is going to make it much wider spread. And I think as they understand how to meet the compliance needs related to cryptotax, they’re going to get a better understanding of cryptoassets, the blockchain category. And in some ways this will be a tipping point for them to go into some of the other areas that Ron just mentioned. So, to me, I’ll see the uneven evolution, and maybe people aren’t wanting to see Blockchain 101. But going forward, it will be even more critical for the profession to be involved in the conversation.

One of the challenges for implementing blockchain is context (Stratopoulos and Calderon, 2018). It is unlikely that small firms would want to make their transactions publicly available or that they would benefit from blockchain accounting as much as big companies. Distributed ledgers may not be attractive or even needed by every company, so there is a real need to ascertain exactly what the up and downsides of implementing blockchain are. As O’Leary (2019) observes, the opportunities for using blockchain may be limited by the desire and ability of all agents in the ecosystem to implement it. A blockchain-based supply chain process could facilitate instant tracking, preserve privacy through a private chain with preauthorization, reduce costs related to updating information, enable automatic payments and, in general, improve automation (Chang et al., 2019). This is particularly interesting in the context of the energy sector, where renewable energy and carbon credits are intangible tradable items.

Blockchain may also lead to more disclosures of non-financial information, such as that related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. The transparency of blockchain might prompt companies to do more explaining. They may wish to quantify and make visible “feel-good” information as a counterpart to the financial (Smith, 2017). Additionally, blockchain provides opportunities to collect qualitative social and environmental data, which will continue to require assurance in the future. La Torre et al. (2018) argue that blockchain will generate an automatic assurance system for non-financial information that could substantially modify the current assurance paradigm.

Analysis

Therefore, blockchain may help accountants move away “from traditional accounting assumptions, such as monetary unit[s], economic entit[ies] and time periods, leading organisations more towards holistic views of their relations with the society” (McGuigan and Ghio, 2019, p. 800). What could be an even more profound transformation of the profession is how the work of accountants might no longer involve only recording transactions. In future, accountants may need to provide professional judgements during the accounting process (McGuigan and Ghio, 2019; Dai and Vasarhelyi, 2017).

The consensus mechanism is the first feature of blockchain that allows all network actors to exchange data (Brown-Liburd et al., 2019; McCallig et al., 2019). This element, although mediated by technology, has had positive evidence in both accounting and auditing theory. For example, the consensus mechanism appears to underpin the establishment of the global International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) framework (Sunder, 2009). Besides, there is evidence that consensus in accounting has a positive correlation with the accuracy of decisions (Ashton, 1985).

Possible solutions for this issue include establishing conflicting interests between involved parties by design (McAliney and Ang, 2019) or providing digital IDs of real-world objects (Alles and Gray, 2020). The latter suggests the complementarity between blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT)/radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology (Sheldon, 2019). We opted not to exclude papers that were published in journals with moderate- to low-impact factors. Moreover, as blockchain is a recent topic, we decided to include conference papers and book chapters.

3 New business models involved

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1 Results of LDA analysis

The transactional data is stored in real-time after it gets verified by the network users. So, accountants can check the status of business transactions at any time. As you know, a double-entry accounting method records the credit and debit values of a transaction.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Nor are all market participants eager to treat cryptoassets as a security due to their volatility, making it difficult to ascertain an appropriate value to record for income statement and balance sheet purposes (Smith et al., 2019; Tan and Low, 2019). Finally, it is worth noting that financial accounting is characterised by accounting prudence and conservatism, which can lead to differences between a company’s market and book value (Dumay and Guthrie, 2019). As cryptoassets are often characterised as a potential future economic benefit, their acquisition may lead to even greater discrepancies between the market and book values of companies, especially in markets with optimistic valuations of intangible assets.

A well-developed regulatory framework may help tokens become a legitimate means of exchange in ecosystems that will start growing in the future. Further work is required from accounting bodies to accept new types of digital assets and develop standards that will solve the issues related to their recognition, measurement and disclosure. In the future, the implementation of blockchain may also raise questions related to the regulation of social and environmental accounting that becomes possible with this technology. All this will help to improve transparency further and decrease information asymmetry in the market. Against this background, the present study is timely, as it aims to review the existing literature on the use of blockchain in accounting practice and research and to define potential opportunities for further investigation.

8 Connection with other technologies

The first focuses on blockchain and its technological features strictly related to decentralized platforms, such as Ethereum, used to share peer-to-peer smart contracts. ISACA said blockchain technology is likely here to stay, the only question is when is the tipping point of adoption. And now, the accounting and audit professional needing to understand, they don’t need to understand hashing. That’s a spot for the accounting a guide to nonprofit accounting for non-accountants audit professional to understand, “This is an ecosystem I need to keep up on.” And that the tools for that ecosystem are beginning to appear. The key feature in blockchain is that anything that is stored on the blockchain is there forever, the information is immutable and cannot be erased. The information that is stored on the blockchain offers us a level of transparency that has not previously been seen.

The blockchain has gone from the peak of inflated expectations down to the trough of disillusionment. But it’s maturing, and it may be changing very quickly what you hear, thanks in part to a decision or a release recently by the IRS. Smart contracts can easily and cost effectively transfer ownership of a car or transfer corporate shares without needing a third party, such as a bank or a stockbroker, and with immediate settlement. It is this removal of “middlemen” by enabling trusted peer-to-peer exchange that is driving what some have come to refer to as “Web 3.0”, and the creation of $2 trillion of wealth in the last ten years.

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