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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Startup valuation

Startup valuation

If every business starts with an idea, young companies can range the spectrum. Some are unformed, at least in a commercial sense, where the owner of the business has an idea that he or she thinks can fill an unfilled need among consumers.

Others have inched a little further up the scale and have converted the idea into a commercial product, albeit with little to show in terms of revenues or earnings. Still others have moved even further down the road to commercial success, and have a market for their product or service, with revenues and the potential, at least, for some profits.

Startup valuationSince young companies tend to be small, they represent only a small part of the overall economy. However, they tend to have a disproportionately large impact on the economy for several reasons.

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The Statement of Cash Flows

Statement of Cash Flows

IAS 7.10 requires an entity to analyse its cash inflows and outflows into three categories:

  • Operating;
  • Investing; and
  • Financing.

IAS 7.6 defines these as follows:

Operating activities are the principal revenue producing activities of the entity and other activities that are not investing or financing activities.’

Investing activities are the acquisition and disposal of long-term assets and other investments not included in cash equivalents.’

Financing activities are activities that result in changes in the size and composition of the contributed equity and borrowings of the entity.’

1. Operating activities

It is often assumed that this category includes only those cash flows that arise from an entity’s principal revenue producing activities.

However, because cash flows arising from operating activities represents a residual category, which includes any cashStatement of cash flows flows that do not qualify to be recorded within either investing or financing activities, these can include cash flows that may initially not appear to be ‘operating’ in nature.

For example, the acquisition of land would typically be viewed as an investing activity, as land is a long-term asset. However, this classification is dependent on the nature of the entity’s operations and business practices. For example, an entity that acquires land regularly to develop residential housing to be sold would classify land acquisitions as an operating activity, as such cash flows relate to its principal revenue producing activities and therefore meet the definition of an operating cash flow.

2. Investing activities

An entity’s investing activities typically include the purchase and disposal of its intangible assets, property, plant and equipment, and interests in other entities that are not held for trading purposes. However, in an entity’s consolidated financial statements, cash flows from investing activities do not include those arising from changes in ownership interest of subsidiaries that do not result in a change in control, which are classified as arising from financing activities.

It should be noted that cash flows related to the sale of leased assets (when the entity is the lessor) may be classified as operating or investing activities depending on the specific facts and circumstances.

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Bill-and-hold arrangements in IFRS 15

Bill-and-hold arrangements

Bill-and-hold arrangements occur when an entity bills a customer for a product that it transfers at a point in time, but retains physical possession of the product until it is transferred to the customer at a future point in time. This might occur to accommodate a customer’s lack of available space for the product or delays in production schedules. [IFRS 15.B79]

To determine when to recognize revenue, an entity needs to determine when the customer obtains control of the product. Generally, this occurs at shipment or delivery to the customer, depending on the contract terms (for discussion of the indicators for transfer of control at a point in time, see Performance obligations satisfied at a point in time from Step 5 IFRS 15 in the link). The new standard provides criteria that have to be met for a customer to obtain control of a product in a bill-and-hold arrangement. These are illustrated below. [IFRS 15.B80–B81]

Bill-and-hold arrangements

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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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Fair value employee share options in IFRS 2

Fair value employee share options

Share options give the holder the right to buy the underlying shares at a set price, called the ‘exercise price’, over or at the end of an agreed period. If the share price exceeds the option’s exercise price when the option is exercised, then the holder of the option profits by the amount of the excess of the share price over the exercise price. Benefit is derived from the right under the option to buy a share for less than its value.

The holder’s cost is the exercise price, whereas the value is the share price. It is not necessary for the holder to sell the share for this profit to exist. Sale only results in realisation of the profit. Because an option holder’s profit increases as the underlying share price increases, share options are used to incentivise employees to contribute to an increase in the price of the underlying shares.

Employee options are typically call options, which give holders the right but not the obligation to buy shares. However, other types of options are also traded in markets. For example, put options give holders the right to sell the underlying shares at an agreed price for a set period.

Given that holders of put options profit when share prices fall below the exercise price, such options are not viewed as aligning the interests of employees and shareholders. All references in this section to ‘share options’ are to employee call options.

Share options granted by entities often cannot be valued with reference to market prices. Many entities, even those whose shares are quoted publicly, do not have options traded on their shares. Options that trade on recognised exchanges such as the Chicago Board Options Exchange are created by market participants and are not issued by entities directly.

Even when there are exchange-traded options on an entity’s shares for which prices are available, the terms and conditions of these options are generally different from the terms and conditions of options issued by entities in share-based payments and, as a result, the prices of such traded options cannot be used directly to value share options issued in a share-based payment.

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Determination of grant date in IFRS 2

Determination of grant date

The determination of grant date is important because this is the date on which the fair value of equity instruments granted is measured. Usually, grant date is also the date on which recognition of the employee cost begins. However, this is not always the case (Service commencement date and grant date in Determination of the vesting period).

Grant date’ is the date at which the entity and the employee agree to a share-based payment arrangement, and requires that the entity and the employee have a shared understanding of the terms and conditions of the arrangement. (IFRS 2.A)

In order for the employer and the employee to ‘agree’ to a share-based payment transaction, there needs to be both an offer and an acceptance of that offer. (IFRS 2.IG2)

Approval and communication by the employer

If the agreement is subject to an approval process, then the grant date cannot be before the date on which that approval is obtained. If a grant is made subject to approval – e.g. by a board of directors – then the grant date is normally when that approval is obtained.

The arrangement also needs to be communicated to the employees to achieve grant date.

In a broad-based unilateral grant of a share-based payment, there is often a period of time between board approval and communication of the terms of the award to individual employees. In some entities, the terms and conditions of the awards are communicated to each employee by their direct supervisor. Because of the varying schedules of employees and employers, it is possible that different employees may be informed of their awards on different dates.

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Determination of the vesting period in IFRS 2

Determination of the vesting period

Service commencement date and grant date – The ‘vesting period’ is the period during which all of the specified vesting conditions are to be satisfied in order for the employees to be entitled unconditionally to the equity instrument. Normally, this is the period between grant date and the vesting date. (IFRS 2.A)

However, services are recognised when they are received and grant date may occur after the employees have begun rendering services. Grant date is a measurement date only. If grant date occurs after the service commencement date, then the entity estimates the grant-date fair value of the equity instruments for the purpose of recognising the services from the service commencement date until grant date.

A possible method of estimating the fair value of the equity instruments is by assuming that grant date is at the reporting date. Once grant date has been established, the entity revises the earlier estimates so that the amounts recognised for services received are based on the grant-date fair value of the equity instruments. In our view, this revision should be treated as a change in estimate. (IFRS 2.IG4, IGEx1A, IGEx2)

Case – Service commencement date before grant date

Determination of the vesting period

On 1 January Year 1, Company B sets up an arrangement in which the employees receive share options, subject to a four-year service condition. The total number of equity instruments granted will be determined objectively based on B’s profit in Year 1. The total number of options will be allocated to employees who started service on or before 1 January Year 1.

Significant subjective factors are involved in determining the number of instruments allocated to each individual employee and B concludes that grant date should be postponed until the outcome of the subjective evaluations is known in April Year 2 – i.e. subsequent to the approval of the financial statements for the reporting period ending 31 December Year 1.

Because the subjective factors are determined only in April Year 2, grant date cannot be before this date. However, in this case there is a clearly defined performance period, commencing on 1 January Year 1, which indicates that the employees have begun rendering their services before grant date. Accordingly, B recognises the cost of the services received from the date on which service commences – i.e. 1 January Year 1.

The estimate used in the Year 1 financial statements is based on an estimate of the fair value, assuming that grant date is 31 December Year 1. This estimate will be revised in April Year 2 when the fair value at grant date is determined.

Assume that B estimates on 31 December Year 1 that the grant-date fair value of an equity instrument granted will be 10 and the actual fair value on grant date of April Year 2 is 9. Based on preliminary profit figures, B further estimates at 31 December Year 1 that the total number of equity instruments granted will be 100, which is confirmed by the final profit figure. If all instruments are expected to and actually do vest, then the accounting is as follows.

Determination of the vesting period


1. 100 x 10.
2. 100 x 9.
3. 1,000 x 1/4.
4. 900 x 2/4.
5. 900 x 3/4.
6. 900 x 4/4.

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