Blockchain was in the air at the Digital CPA conference in Las Vegas this year, the fifth iteration of CPA.com’s annual conference on accounting technology – and for good reason.

The technology, first proliferated by the digital currency Bitcoin, is at the “top of the hype cycle” of technology, CPA.com’s president and CEO Erik Asgeirsson explained during his keynote. After it takes the traditional dip in popularity following the peak of hype (the “trough of disillusionment,”) blockchain will undoubtedly reach the “plateau of productivity” and change the accounting world like the cloud did.

“At CPA.com, we are trying to take these technologies, work with you, and enable the profession to increase productivity and client relationships,” Asgeirsson said. “We’re moving into the world of digital business – combining services and technology, blurring the digital and physical worlds.”

Having set the stage already with its encouragement of the profession to adopt cloud and keep pace with the rapidly advancing technology world, CPA.com aims to be at the forefront of the rise of technologies like blockchain for the accounting profession. Because the main attraction of blockchain is security and reliability, it’s critical for the profession to start thinking about its potential implications for financial reporting and auditing.

Next up: AI. Artificial intelligence will play a major role in changing the way accountants do audits, Asgeirsson said. CPA.com is working towards a dynamic audit solution that leverages all client data, including unstructured data such as blocks of text that may be found in e-mails or leases, not just structured data such as in formatted ledgers or spreadsheets.

“Leases are a classic example of unstructured data,” Asgeirsson said, and automatically mining the data from such sources and putting it in an organized format can be difficult with unsophisticated software.

This audit solution, Asgeirsson said, will be able to automate smart grouping of trial balance accounts for financial statements; eliminate lead sheets with a ledger account window; reveal all account transactional detail in a transactional detail window; and pull industry and company information from external sources to populate a risk assessment dashboard.

Finally, Asgeirsson announced from the stage that CPA.com and the and its parent, the American Institute of CPAs, have collaborated to introduce a new client accounting advisory certificate in January. Those who complete the course, which includes up to 33 hours of CPE, will receive a digital badge -- a visual “certificate” that is displayable across social media platforms, including LinkedIn. This open credential mechanism allows badge holders to show potential clients or employers that they are proficient in whatever area is denoted by that badge.

 

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