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Finance chiefs say bitcoin is 'real' but many think it's in a bubble right now

  • Ninety-seven chief financial officers (CFOs) on CNBC's Global CFO Council were asked their view on bitcoin
  • Out of the 43 that responded, 27.9 percent said the cryptocurrency is "real but in a bubble"
  • Another 14 percent said that bitcoin is "real and still going higher"

Bitcoin is a "real" asset but it's currently in a bubble, according to a CNBC survey of global finance bosses, with many calling it a "fraud."

Ninety-seven chief financial officers (CFOs) on CNBC's Global CFO Council were asked their view on bitcoin. Out of the 43 that responded, 27.9 percent said the cryptocurrency is "real but in a bubble." Another 14 percent said that bitcoin is "real and still going higher."

Meanwhile, 27.9 percent said bitcoin is a "fraud" while 30.2 percent of CFOs said they don't know enough about the digital currency to have an opinion.

Of the finance chiefs based in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, 41.7 percent said that bitcoin is "real but in a bubble" compared to 20.8 percent in the U.S. and 28.6 percent in the Asia Pacific region. A third of respondents in EMEA also think bitcoin is a "fraud," higher than their counterparts in the other regions across the world.

Karim Hajjar, chief financial officer of Solvay, and a member of CNBC's Global CFO Council said, that the "jury is out on bitcoin."

"It's not a currency we are using for a multibillion dollar business … it's something we are curious about, we are very very open to, but we haven't found a way to really integrate it into our business," Hajjar told CNBC in a TV interview on Tuesday.

"If a hypothetical customer comes to us and says, 'I have a bunch of bitcoins to buy your products,' first thing I'll probably want to do is not turn them away but probably find a way to sell those bitcoins before I commit to the order and then really make sure we meet the needs of that customer."

Bitcoin
Alexander Demianchuk | TASS | Getty Images

Bitcoin hit an all-time high on Sunday, breaking above the $8,000 mark for the first time ever. The price of the cryptocurrency is up over 700 percent this year.

The rapid rise of bitcoin has sparked fierce debate over the future of the digital currency. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a "fraud" and said anyone who buys it is stupid. UBS meanwhile called bitcoin a "speculative bubble." And regulators have also been keeping an eye on bitcoin with some clamping down on trading. China recently banned cryptocurrency exchanges.

However, bitcoin appears to have shrugged off the negative noises and has benefitted from some positive news that could help bring it into the mainstream. Earlier this year for example, Japan passed a law to allow retailers to accept bitcoin as payment. And the CME Group announced plans to introduce bitcoin futures, sparking hope that this could bring more institutional investors into the fold.

Bitcoin is an extremely volatile asset and though it is had a huge rally this year, there has been wild swings along the way.

The survey was conducted from November 3 to November 16, 2017. Among the 97 members of CNBC's Global CFO Council, 43 responded to the survey (24 U.S., 10 EMEA, and 7 APAC).