Blockchain – Best 2 accounting for IFRS

Blockchain accounting for IFRS

Holdings of cryptocurrencies allow individuals and businesses to transact directly with each other without an intermediary such as a bank or other financial institution. These cryptocurrency transactions rely on a key technology called blockchain technology.

Digital assets or so-called cryptoassets are becoming increasingly common but what are they and how might you record them in your financial statements?

Holding cryptocurrencies – e.g. Bitcoin, Ether etc

What are the characteristics?

  • Cryptocurrencies – e.g. Bitcoin and Ether – typically exhibit some similarities to traditional currencies in that they can be traded for goods or services. They can also be held as a longer-term investment or for trading or speculation. But IFRIC and other commentators do not consider current cryptocurrencies to be cash or currency because:

    • they are a poor store of value, because their value is based on demand and supply and is highly volatile;

    • they are not sufficiently widely accepted as a medium of exchange; and

    • they are not issued by a central bank.

  • With cryptocurrencies also failing to meet the definition of a financial asset, the question is, what type of asset are they?

How might they impact your financial statements?

  • Because of their high volatility in value, many believe that cryptocurrencies are akin to derivatives and should be measured at fair value through profit or loss (FVTPL). However, IFRIC’s tentative conclusions on accounting for cryptocurrencies do not support this approach.

  • IFRIC proposes that cryptocurrencies are generally intangible assets under IAS 38 Intangible Assets – i.e. non-monetary items with no physical substance that convey economic benefits to the holder.

  • Measurement would be at cost – or potentially at fair value with movements through other comprehensive income (OCI) if, and only if, there is an active market.

  • If the cryptocurrency is held for sale in the normal course of business – e.g. if you are a broker-trader (see below) – then IAS 38 does not apply and, instead, IFRIC proposes that the cryptocurrency would be accounted for as inventory under IAS 2 Inventory.

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Example accounting policies

Example accounting policies

Get the requirements for properly disclosing the accounting policies to provide the users of your financial statements with useful financial data, in the common language prescribed in the world’s most widely used standards for financial reporting, the IFRS Standards. First there is a section providing guidance on what the requirements are, followed by a comprehensive example, easy to tailor to the specific needs of your company.Example accounting policies

Example accounting policies guidance

Whether to disclose an accounting policy

1. In deciding whether a particular accounting policy should be disclosed, management considers whether disclosure would assist users in understanding how transactions, other events and conditions are reflected in the reported financial performance and financial position. Disclosure of particular accounting policies is especially useful to users where those policies are selected from alternatives allowed in IFRS. [IAS 1.119]

2. Some IFRSs specifically require disclosure of particular accounting policies, including choices made by management between different policies they allow. For example, IAS 16 Property, Plant and Equipment requires disclosure of the measurement bases used for classes of property, plant and equipment and IFRS 3 Business Combinations requires disclosure of the measurement basis used for non-controlling interest acquired during the period.

3. In this guidance, policies are disclosed that are specific to the entity and relevant for an understanding of individual line items in the financial statements, together with the notes for those line items. Other, more general policies are disclosed in the note 25 in the example below. Where permitted by local requirements, entities could consider moving these non-entity-specific policies into an Appendix.

Change in accounting policy – new and revised accounting standards

4. Where an entity has changed any of its accounting policies, either as a result of a new or revised accounting standard or voluntarily, it must explain the change in its notes. Additional disclosures are required where a policy is changed retrospectively, see note 26 for further information. [IAS 8.28]

5. New or revised accounting standards and interpretations only need to be disclosed if they resulted in a change in accounting policy which had an impact in the current year or could impact on future periods. There is no need to disclose pronouncements that did not have any impact on the entity’s accounting policies and amounts recognised in the financial statements. [IAS 8.28]

6. For the purpose of this edition, it is assumed that RePort Co. PLC did not have to make any changes to its accounting policies, as it is not affected by the interest rate benchmark reforms, and the other amendments summarised in Appendix D are only clarifications that did not require any changes. However, this assumption will not necessarily apply to all entities. Where there has been a change in policy, this will need to be explained, see note 26 for further information.

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5 steps in IFRS 15 – best quick read

5 steps in IFRS 15

Under IFRS 15 Revenue from contracts with customers, entities apply the 5 steps in IFRS 15 to determine when to recognize revenue, and at what amount. The model specifies that revenue is recognized when or as an entity transfers control of goods or services to a customer at the amount to which the entity expects to be entitled. Depending on whether certain criteria are met, revenue is recognized:

  • over time, in a manner that best reflects the entity’s performance; or
  • at a point in time, when control of the goods or services is transferred to the customer.

IFRS 15 provides application guidance on numerous related topics, including warranties and licenses. It also provides guidance on when to capitalize the costs of obtaining a contract and some costs of fulfilling a contract (specifically those that are not addressed in other relevant authoritative guidance – e.g. for inventory).

5 steps in IFRS 15 – What is IFRS 15?

Step 1: Identify the contract with a customer

A contract with a customer is in the scope of IFRS 15 when the contract is legally enforceable and certain criteria are met. If the criteria are not met, then the contract does not exist for purposes of applying the general model of IFRS 15, and any consideration received from the customer is generally recognized as a deposit (liability). Contracts entered into at or near the same time with the same customer (or a related party of the customer) are combined and treated as a single contract when certain criteria are met.

A contract with a customer is in the scope of IFRS 15 when it is legally enforceable and meets all of the following criteria. [IFRS 15.9]

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Revenue definition

Revenue definition

Revenue is defined in IFRS 15 as: ‘Income arising in the course of an entity’s ordinary activities‘.

IFRS 15 establishes a single and comprehensive framework which sets out how much revenue is to be recognised, and when. The core principle is that a vendor should recognise revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the vendor expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services.

The application of the core principle in IFRS 15 is carried out in five steps:

revenue definition

The five-step model is applied to individual contracts. However, as a practical expedient, IFRS 15 permits an entity to apply the model to a portfolio of contracts (or performance obligations) with similar characteristics if the entity reasonably expects that the effects would not differ materially from applying it to individual contracts.

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Initial Coin Offering

Initial Coin Offering

An Initial Coin Offering (‘ICO’) is a form of fundraising that harnesses the power of cryptographic assets and blockchain-based trading. Similar to a crowdfunding campaign, an ICO allocates (issues or promises to issue) digital token(s) instead of shares to the parties that provided contributions for the development of the digital token. These ICO tokens typically do not represent an ownership interest in the entity, but they often provide access to a platform (if and when developed) and can often be traded on a crypto exchange. The population of ICO tokens in an ICO is generally set at a fixed amount.

It should be noted that ICOs might be subject to local securities law, and significant regulatory considerations might apply.

Each ICO is bespoke and will have unique terms and conditions. It is critical for issuers to review the whitepaper (A whitepaper is a concept paper authored by the developers of a platform, to set out an idea and overall value proposition to prospective investors. The whitepaper commonly outlines the development roadmap and key milestones that the development team expects to meet) or underlying documents accompanying the ICO token issuance, and to understand what exactly is being offered to investors/subscribers. In situations where rights and obligations arising from a whitepaper or their legal enforceability are unclear, legal advice might be needed, to determine the relevant terms.

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IFRS 15 Revenue Disclosures Examples

IFRS 15 Revenue Disclosures Examples

IFRS 15 Revenue Disclosures Examples provides the context of disclosure requirements in IFRS 15 Revenue from contracts with customers and a practical example disclosure note in the financial statements. However, as this publication is a reference tool, no disclosures have been removed based on materiality. Instead, illustrative disclosures for as many common scenarios as possible have been included.

Please note that the amounts disclosed in this publication are purely for illustrative purposes and may not be consistent throughout the example disclosure related party transactions.

Users of the financial statements should be given sufficient information to understand the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers. To achieve this, entities must provide qualitative and quantitative information about their contracts with customers, significant judgements made in applying IFRS 15 and any assets recognised from the costs to obtain or fulfil a contract with customers. [IFRS 15.110]

Disaggregation of revenue

[IFRS 15.114, IFRS 15.B87-B89]

Entities must disaggregate revenue from contracts with customers into categories that depict how the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows are affected by economic factors. It will depend on the specific circumstances of each entity as to how much detail is disclosed. The Reporting entity Plc has determined that a disaggregation of revenue using existing segments and the timing of the transfer of goods or services (at a point in time vs over time) is adequate for its circumstances. However, this is a judgement and will not necessarily be appropriate for other entities.

Other categories that could be used as basis for disaggregation include:IFRS 15 Revenue Disclosures Examples

  1. type of good or service (eg major product lines)
  2. geographical regions
  3. market or type of customer
  4. type of contract (eg fixed price vs time-and-materials contracts)
  5. contract duration (short-term vs long-term contracts), or
  6. sales channels (directly to customers vs wholesale).

When selecting categories for the disaggregation of revenue entities should also consider how their revenue is presented for other purposes, eg in earnings releases, annual reports or investor presentations and what information is regularly reviewed by the chief operating decision makers. [IFRS 15.B88]

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Better Communication in Financial Reporting

Better Communication in Financial Reporting

Better Communication in Financial Reporting is an IFRS.org initiative to focus financial reporting on users. There is a general view that financial reports have become too complex and difficult to read and that financial reporting tends to focus more on compliance than communication. See also narrative reporting as a discussion on alternative ways of reporting.

At the same time, users’ tolerance for sifting through information to find what they need continues to decline.

This has implications for the reputation of companies who fail to keep pace. A global study confirmed this trend, with the majority of analysts stating that the quality of reporting directly influenced their opinion of the quality of management.

To demonstrate what companies could do to make their financial report more relevant, there are several suggestions to ‘streamline’ the financial statements to reflect some of the best practices that have been emerging globally over the past few years. In particular:

  • Information is organized to clearly tell the story of financial performance and make critical information more prominent and easier to find.
  • Additional information is included where it is important for an understanding of the performance of the company. For example, we have included a summary of significant transactions and events as the first note to the financial statements even though this is not a required disclosure.

Improving disclosure effectiveness

Terms such as ’disclosure overload’ and ‘cutting the clutter’, and more precisely ‘disclosure effectiveness’, describe a problem in financial reporting that has become a priority issue for the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB or Board), local standard setters, and regulatory bodies. The growth and complexity of financial statement disclosure is also drawing significant attention from financial statement preparers, and more importantly, the users of financial statements.

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