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Cryptocurrencies—Holdings of cryptocurrencies

Date recorded:

Holdings of cryptocurrencies (Agenda Paper 4)

Background

In 2018, the International Accounting Standards Board (Board) and the IFRS Interpretations Committee (Committee), respectively, discussed holdings of cryptocurrencies.

Based on the staff analysis that was agreed in the Committee's November 2018 meeting and the Board's November 2018 meeting, cryptocurrencies do not meet the definition of financial assets in IFRS 9 Financial Instruments or cash equivalents in IAS 7 Statement of Cash Flows, and the entity would account for holdings of cryptocurrencies applying IAS 38 Intangible Assets, unless it is determined that they are within the scope of another IFRS Standard (e.g. IAS 2 Inventories when entities hold cryptocurrencies for sale in the ordinary course of business). In the Board's November 2018 meeting, the Board decided not to add this matter to its work plan but instead asked the Committee to consider publishing an agenda decision.

Staff recommendation

The staff recommend that the Committee publish a tentative agenda decision that explains how IFRS Standards apply to holdings of cryptocurrencies as attached to the staff paper.

Discussion

There were different views in respect of the technical analysis in the staff paper. A Committee member was not convinced that IAS 38 is the appropriate accounting Standard for cryptocurrencies. Another Committee member thought cryptocurrencies should be fair valued through profit or loss based on their economics, although it might be difficult to obtain the fair value. There were a couple of observations raised by the Committee members, including (i) whether the Agenda Decision will cover all types of cryptoassets; (ii) whether it is necessary to mention "unit of account" in the assessment as cash under IAS 7; (iii) whether cryptocurrencies are regarded as commodity in the assessment of IAS 2; (iv) whether cryptocurrencies can be classified as held-for-sale and (v) references to IFRS 13 Fair Value Measurement such as the relevant disclosure requirements and specific references to "active markets".

In general, most Committee members expressed the view that it is helpful to provide an Agenda Decision given the diversity in practice.

The staff considered the discussions and concluded changes to the tentative Agenda Decision. The Committee decided, by a majority of votes, to publish the tentative Agenda Decision with these adjustments.

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