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More than 60 percent of CFOs plan to use blockchain within two years

The 2019 CFO Survey found that plans to add blockchain and AI technology are about equal by 2021

Chief financial officers are betting big on new technology and data solutions including blockchain, according to a new survey from international auditing firm Grant Thornton LLP’s 2019 CFO Survey.

The new survey of nearly 400 CFOs of companies with revenues of at least $100 million found that 22 percent have implemented some blockchain technology, while an additional 40 percent intend to do so by 2021. That’s nearly the same as the 41 percent planning to implement the much hotter category of artificial intelligence (AI) technology within the next two years.

The numbers are slightly higher for broader distributed ledger technology, which includes blockchain as well as non-blockchain DLTs like R3’s Corda. Twenty-three percent have already implemented DLT, while 44 percent said they intend to implement DLT within two years, up from 27 percent in the 2018 survey, which did not separate blockchain out of DLT.

“Financial leaders must embrace and adapt to new technologies to ensure their organizations operate efficiently,” said Srikant Sastry, national managing principal of advisory services at Grant Thornton, in a statement. “The speed with which CFOs are investing in IT shows a clear vision of the digital transformation they want to see at their companies.”

That said, the CFOs surveyed were not happy with the pace of adopting new technologies like blockchain, AI, robotic process automation, and the use of drones and robots. Fully 92 percent said finance leaders, “must do a better job of leveraging both technology and people.”

Chris Stephenson, business consulting principal at Grant Thornton, added, “As the finance function of the future takes shape, it will demand new skill sets. Leaders will need to move full speed ahead to invest in the right technology and people to transform their businesses and, ultimately, guide strategic decision making across their organizations.”

Meanwhile, CFOs are bullish about the economy in the U.S. with more than 90 percent predicting no recession this year, according to CNBC’s Q1 2019 survey of its Global CFO Council, announced on March 1. They are far less bullish on Europe, with less than 48 percent predicting the Eurozone will avoid a recession this year, compared to 26 percent who think it will and another 26 percent who are unsure.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.