US Accounting Rule-Setter, FASB, Comes Through with Welcome Valuation Update
This month, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) unanimously voted in favor of finalizing updates to the valuation methodology used in financial reporting by entities holding crypto assets.
Entities that hold crypto assets will be required to report the fair value at the relevant financial reporting date, rather than the existing practice of accounting for crypto assets as indefinite-lived intangible assets. Under existing U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) these assets are tested for impairment at the relevant reporting date and if the carrying amount of the asset exceeds its fair value, the reporting entity is required to recognize an impairment loss and reduce the carrying amount of the asset to its fair value. Subsequent increases in the fair value of the asset do not result in a reversal of the impairment so a sizeable disconnect between the reported value and the fair value can occur.
It is expected that the final Accounting Standards Update will be put forward for a vote by written ballot later this year with the rules taking effect as early as 2025. Entities will have the option to adopt the new standards early, and it is expected that many will to so due to the increased accuracy they will reflect for readers of financial statements.
Michael Saylor’s MicroStrategy, a Nasdaq-listed software firm, holding Bitcoin with a cost basis of nearly $5 billion, helped lead the charge on the updates, having sent a letter to FASB requesting the update in May 2021. MicroStrategy’s more recent submission is among the 83 comment letters received by FASB, most generally supporting the coming changes.
“It’s not very often that we can both take cost out of the system and improve the decision usefulness of information, and it makes it a really easy vote to do both of those,” FASB member Christine Botosan said.
Notably, wrapped tokens, NFTs and other digital tokens not fitting within FASB’s final criteria will be excluded from fair value treatment under the Accounting Standards Update for the time being.
FASB’s updates to the U.S. standards bring the application of U.S. GAAP in relation to digital assets more in-line with many other countries’ equivalent standards, including the widely-adopted International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The updates should lower the administrative burden on entities reporting under multiple accounting standards. More information on the Accounting Standards Update can be found on FASB’s website.