Thursday, 14 December 2023
by Rose White
Today, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) announced new rules that will require companies to account for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin at fair value. The rules are set to go into effect on December 15, 2024, but companies will be able to apply them earlier than that.
Under the new guidelines, which are the first of their kind in the United States, businesses will need to disclose the value of cryptocurrencies based on their market prices at the end of each reporting period. This move aims to provide greater transparency and accuracy in financial reporting, acknowledging the volatile nature of digital assets like Bitcoin.
Previously, the old treatment accounted for Bitcoin as an intangible asset, which meant if the price went lower than what companies bought it for, they had to take an impairment charge on their books, even if they didn’t sell. But if the price went up, they couldn’t receive any benefit on their books unless they sold. Now, with fair value accounting, periodically (i.e. every quarter) companies can report the unrealized gains and losses to get an actual benefit on their books if the price of the asset increases (without having to sell to capture it). This could make companies more likely to add bitcoin to their balance sheet and become long-term holders as they can report the appreciation without having to sell anything.
“It’s just a phenomenal time of year to get this holiday gift of commonsense accounting,” reportedly said Edward McGee, CFO of Grayscale Investments LLC.
Investors and regulators will now have access to more timely and accurate information about the financial health of companies holding Bitcoin. This increased transparency is expected to foster greater trust and confidence in the industry, which has often been plagued by concerns over its lack of oversight and regulation.
However, implementing fair value accounting for cryptocurrencies is not without its challenges. The volatility of Bitcoin and other digital assets means that companies will need to invest in robust valuation methods and procedures to ensure accuracy in their financial reporting. Additionally, auditors will need to develop expertise in assessing the fair market value of these assets, which can be a complex task.
Despite these challenges, the introduction of fair value accounting rules for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is a significant step forward for the industry.