Matthew Neville

A new breed of finance frontrunners face the future: SMBs embrace the metaverse and cryptocurrency, Sage finds

A new study by Sage, who specialises in accounting, financial, HR and payroll technology for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), has found that 83 per cent of finance leaders believe the industry needs a new breed of CFO.

“The Redefined CFO” study investigates how finance leaders today take a more holistic approach with a reliance on data to engage with the wider strategic priorities of organisations.

Jonathan Howell, chief financial officer at Sage, said: “Today’s finance leaders are future-focused strategists and advisors capable of providing guidance and commercial insights where their businesses need them most.

“While getting the numbers right will always remain critical, CFOs are now a real blend of traits using real-time analysis, predictive modelling and forecasting to shape the future as well as reporting on what’s gone before. This requires greater flexibility.”

The research found that finance officers within SMBs are increasingly embracing cryptocurrencies and the metaverse as digital payments technology forces an evolution. While only 17 per cent of global finance teams reported currently accepting cryptocurrency transactions, 33 per cent plan to accept decentralised currencies within the next 12 months.

52 per cent believe these currencies will prove “extremely viable” as a long-term payment solution. The biggest hurdles surrounding adoption of cryptocurrencies were internal ESG policies (22 per cent) and finding the right talent to manage it (22 per cent).

The research revealed that over two-fifths (44 per cent) of finance leaders have used cryptocurrency as payment for personal transactions, whilst 48 per cent have personally invested in cryptocurrency. Another 49 per cent plan to invest in it.

When it comes to the metaverse, SMBs may be further ahead in embracing the new technology than many anticipate. 36 per cent of finance teams say their company has already entered the metaverse, 52 per cent say they plan to increase their presence over the coming year.

Aaron Harris, chief technology officer, at Sage said: “The metaverse is a great example of the convergence of our digital and physical lives - integrating human touch points through digital means to knock down barriers.

“And while it’s still early days for most, the metaverse is normalising some emerging technologies like cryptocurrencies for SMBs which in turn, removes friction and delivers insights.

“Yet despite the appetite for new technologies and business models, the availability of skills remains an industry-wide issue that, as a community, we need to solve. Offering more than the traditional finance roles, I hope this will help our profession appeal to an increasingly wider demographic.”

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