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XBRL Blockchain Standards [Research]

Next steps:

A working group to develop tokenization standards that can be used worldwide for all asset classes plans to establish goals and action steps by early 2017

Last updated:

March 2017


A token is a digital representation of an asset which could be debt, equity, cash or a physical asset (i.e. a vehicle or a piece of artwork). The blockchain is a digital distributed ledger that records and facilitates transactions. Tokens, which are representational units of an asset, provide the mapping of an account to an asset and maintain a record of ownership. They are used on a blockchain to assign ownership and rights of underlying assets that are transacted through smart contracts (digital contractual agreements) on the blockchain.

Several different protocols are being developed around the world. Uniform standards, however, to ensure interoperability between different blockchains could prove critical to what is still a nascent industry.

Other developments

March 2017

On March 1, 2017, the SEC issued a notice that the IFRS taxonomy has now been published on the SEC’s website. While the existing XBRL rules would have required FPIs that prepare their financial statements in accordance with IFRS to begin filing financial statements in XBRL format immediately upon publication by the SEC of the IFRS taxonomy, in its March 1, 2017 notice, the SEC stated that those issuers may instead choose to begin filing their financial statements in XBRL format starting with their first annual report on Form 20-F or Form 40-F for the fiscal period ending on or after December 15, 2017.

On March 1, 2017, the SEC also announced proposed amendments intended to improve the quality and accessibility of data submitted by public companies and mutual funds using XBRL. The proposals would require the use of Inline XBRL (iXBRL), which has the potential to benefit investors and other market participants while decreasing, over time, the cost of preparing information for submission to the SEC. The recommendations are part of the SEC’s disclosure modernization initiative.

December 2016

On December 14, 2016, XBRL US, together with ConsenSys, an­nounced the formation of a working group dedicated to developing standards for tokenization of assets on the blockchain. The working group will establish goals and action steps by early 2017, and is requesting participation from individuals representing technology, finance, and accounting to provide their expertise in developing tokenization standards that can be used worldwide, for all asset classes.

January 2009

In January 2009, the SEC adopted rules requiring SEC reporting companies to file with the SEC and post to their corporate websites their financial statements in XBRL format. While the XBRL requirements apply to all SEC reporting companies, the SEC delayed compliance by Foreign Private Issuers (FPIs) that prepare their financial statements in accordance with IFRS until the SEC specified an XBRL “taxonomy” for IFRS (that is, a standard list of tags for specific pieces of IFRS financial data).


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