The U.S. Financial Accounting Services Board (FASB) has passed a unanimous vote to drastically change the way crypto asset values are recorded on publicly traded companies’ balance sheets.
Experts predict the change will make crypto more attractive to hold by exposing big investors to the upside potential of their assets.
How FASB’s Change Impacts Crypto
On Wednesday, the Board held a meeting to evaluate comments on the proposed change, which would have crypto assets marked at fair value in companies’ accounting statements.
Under current rules, crypto assets are treated as intangible assets, The model has companies record their crypto values at the historical prices they paid for them, while regularly reassessing their assets for feeless “impairment” charges if these values decline.
When asset prices rebound, companies cannot revise values upwards. That means if crypto prices plummet even briefly during a given quarter, businesses must log the full decline as an impairment in their quarterly report.
While this model makes more sense for items like trademarks, copyrights, and brands, it is less rational for assets like Bitcoin (BTC), which are highly liquid, regularly traded, and have a readily available market price.
As noted by respondents to the 2021 FASB Invitation to Comment (ITC), neglecting crypto asset gains on a company’s balance sheet “does not provide investors, lenders, creditors, and other allocators of capital with decision-useful information.”
FASB member Christine Botosan told Bloomberg that the change made for an easy vote, given that it “can both take cost out of the system and improve the decision usefulness of information.”
The rule change will be mandatory for all public and private companies in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2024.
MicroStrategy’s Wish Granted
FASB’s vote is a welcome change for MicroStrategy, one of the largest corporate holders of Bitcoin, whose optics have suffered massively under the current ruleset during Bitcoin’s worst quarters. In its Q4 2022 report, the firm recorded a $198 million impairment loss on its holdings.
The firm’s CEO has been a vocal advocate for fair value crypto accounting, claiming on Wednesday that it “eliminates a major impediment to corporate adoption of BTC as a treasury reserve asset.”
— Michael Saylor⚡️ (@saylor) September 6, 2023
Not all digital assets are covered by the rules, however. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are still subject to intangible asset accounting, as are stablecoins (ex. USDT and USDC) and other value-pegged cryptos (WBTC).