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FASB implements new accounting rules for cryptocurrencies

In this post:

  • The FASB has agreed to implement changes to how crypto holdings are being disclosed.
  • Impact on corporations and the wider crypto ecosystem.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has unanimously voted to implement changes in how companies account for and disclose their holdings of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other digital assets. These new rules are set to take effect starting in 2025, with the primary goal of providing investors and financial statement users with greater transparency concerning these volatile assets. The FASB is recognized by the SEC as the accounting standard setter for public companies.

FASB Chair announces the significance of the decision

FASB Chairman Richard Jones expressed the significance of this decision, stating that the issue has attracted a lot of excitement from the people. He also mentioned that investors who allocate capital based on the use of financial statements will have better information to make their decisions. Christine Botosan, a board member of FASB, echoed this sentiment, saying that it is not often that costs out of the system and improve the decision usefulness of information. It makes the vote easy when both can be achieved.

Under the existing rules, companies are required to record cryptocurrency holdings at their original cost and are only allowed to write them down as an “impairment charge” if the value drops below the original cost. However, they are not permitted to mark them up if the price of these assets increases. This method has been criticized for reflecting only one side of value changes. The new FASB rules will mandate companies to account for digital assets at their fair market value, thereby capturing frequent price fluctuations. Gains and losses from these assets will be reflected in the income statement.

Additionally, the rules expand disclosure requirements, restrictions on selling these assets, and a reconciliation of crypto activity from opening to closing balances during the period. FASB Chairman Richard Jones emphasized the board’s mission, stating, “Our mission is to best reflect the economics of a transaction—provide investors and allocators of capital with the information they need—I think this moves the needle there.”

Marsha Hunt, another FASB board member, noted the forward-looking nature of the standards, saying, “While we’re dealing with the world as it exists today, we are writing standards for the world of tomorrow.” Notably, these new requirements will apply to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies. However, the board decided to exclude non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and wrapped tokens that provide claims on other crypto assets from the scope of these rules.

Impact on corporations and the wider crypto ecosystem

Susan Cosper, a FASB member, acknowledged the decision, saying, “I know there’ll be some that are disappointed that we haven’t expanded the scope to address wrapped tokens and NFTs. But I think that intentionally keeping this project narrow has allowed us to get this information in the hands of investors sooner.” Implementing the new rules will affect all public and private companies, with an effective date for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2024. Companies can choose to adopt these rules earlier if they wish.

Most commenters during the rulemaking process indicated that the transition would not involve significant costs or effort for companies. Current processes for voluntary reporting or tax compliance have already provided them with much of the infrastructure needed to comply with the new rules. This move by FASB comes in response to increasing pressure from investors and other stakeholders, especially as major companies like Tesla, MicroStrategy, and Block (formerly Square) have accumulated significant Bitcoin holdings. Recently, blockchain intelligence firm Arkham identified Bitcoin holdings in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust with a balance exceeding $16 billion.

The asymmetrical treatment of cryptocurrencies under current accounting standards has been a major concern, and this change aims to address it. Michael Saylor, co-founder and executive chairman of MicroStrategy, celebrated the decision, stating, “Fair value accounting is coming to Bitcoin. This upgrade to FASB accounting rules eliminates a major impediment to corporate adoption of $BTC as a treasury asset.” The impact of these new rules extends beyond individual companies.

Financial analyst Stack Macro noted, “Most public corporations couldn’t stack Bitcoin without this rule change. Now cash-rich companies have a way to insure their bond portfolios against debasement.” The FASB’s decision to implement these new rules comes after a standard-setting process that commenced in July 2022 when the FASB issued its initial proposal. The final rules have incorporated feedback from over 80 comment letters received during a public comment period.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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