• Wed. May 29th, 2024

New FASB Rules Set to Measure Crypto at Fair Value

Walter Swift

ByWalter Swift

Dec 14, 2023

In a December 13, 2023, statement, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) unveiled new regulations mandating companies to factor cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin based on their fair value.

These rules will become enforceable starting December 15, 2024. Yet, companies can opt to implement them earlier. Also, the guidelines recommend a fundamental valuation of the Bitcoin/crypto that is not subject to market forces.

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The goal is to improve the accuracy and transparency of financial reports, especially considering how digital assets like Bitcoin can have unpredictable value changes.

The approach required companies to show a loss in their financial records if the price of Bitcoin dropped below what they paid for it, even if they didn’t sell it. 

On the flip side, they couldn’t report a profit unless they sold the Bitcoins at a higher price than what they initially bought for (price appreciation without selling).  

This shift allows investors and regulators to access more timely and precise information regarding companies holding Bitcoin. The anticipated outcome is heightened transparency, aiming to instill greater trust and confidence in an industry often shadowed by concerns about oversight and regulation.

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Nevertheless, adopting fair value accounting for cryptocurrencies poses challenges. Bitcoin’s volatility demands companies to invest in robust valuation methods and procedures for accurate financial reporting. 

Furthermore, auditors will need to develop expertise in appraising the fair market value of these assets, a task known for its complexity.

Despite these hurdles, introducing fair value accounting rules for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is a significant stride forward for the industry.

There are Two Sides to the FASB Update

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has long held back on formulating specific accounting standards for cryptocurrency, deeming its adoption by companies minimal and the underlying assets volatile and speculative. However, the landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years.

In response, FASB has finally proposed a set of accounting rules for crypto assets based on fair value at purchase.

Key players had different reactions to the move.

Proponents argue that fair value accounting, the proposed method, will enhance transparency and provide investors with a more accurate picture of a company’s financial health and potential risks associated with its crypto holdings. 

Skeptics question the validity of applying traditional accounting principles to assets as inherently unpredictable as cryptocurrencies.  Congressman Brad Sherman’s analogy of crypto as a “collection of pet rocks” succinctly encapsulates this skepticism, highlighting concerns about the underlying value of these digital assets.

The proposed FASB rules represent a significant turning point. Whether they pave the way for increased accountability and transparency or merely legitimize a speculative ecosystem remains to be seen. 

The debate over these rules promises to be as complex and nuanced as the preceding arguments that guide them.

New Guidelines Could Decrease Expenses and Simplify Processes

The fresh guidelines mention that measuring crypto assets at fair value doesn’t just reflect their economics better, but could also make it cheaper and less complicated for many companies compared to the current accounting model without considering impairment costs.

MicroStrategy, a publicly traded software company widely recognized for its involvement in Bitcoin, expressed support earlier this year for the proposed standards. 

In a May statement, the company explained that adopting a fair value model for reporting crypto asset holdings, as suggested by the FASB, would allow them to offer investors a clearer picture of their financial status and the value of their bitcoin holdings. 

They believe this would help investors make well-informed decisions regarding where to invest their money and allocate capital.

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Walter Swift

Walter Swift

Walter Swift is an adept crypto writer, known for his deep insights into the decentralized world. His pieces artfully break down complex blockchain topics, making them accessible to a broad audience. With a passion for emerging technologies, Walter's articles are a beacon for crypto enthusiasts and novices alike.

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