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The many faces of XBRL

Under ACRA’s mandates, a small percentage of Singapore companies need to file full financial statements in XBRL. A larger cohort has to file financial statement highlights and the remaining don’t have to file at all.

Meanwhile, XBRL is maturing very fast, with the discourse in major XBRL regimes already having moved to the consumption of XBRL data. A large number of companies peddling data integration and analytics solutions have arrived on the XBRL scene, mainly in the US. There are two things that we need to focus on here:

  1. XBRL is actually, finally, being used [Obvious]
  2. Companies are integrating legacy systems (for some kinds of data) and newer systems (for other kinds of data) and creating analytics from both systems instead of waiting for newer systems to take over completely, because that may take a lot of time [Not so Obvious]

XBRL has had movement on other fronts too. There have been precedents for the use of XBRL in municipal data collection. In Spain, uses of XBRL for collecting and submitting civic data have been successful.

The US DATA Act 2014 plans to collect government spending data in XBRL, with the aim of increasing transparency. The initial pilots are already underway.

XBRL’s more evolved cousin, inline-XBRL (iXBRL), has been in use for reporting to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the UK for four and a half years now. By embedding XBRL tags in an HTML document, iXBRL enables information to be both human-readable and machine-readable. In the US, theSEC is also about to migrate to iXBRL in order to reduce the current dual-reporting burden (XBRL and HTML) on public companies.

With Singapore’s small land area and high office density, both XBRLised municipal data collection and SBR are eminently viable. This is where the increasing consumption of XBRL data (and the development of analytics solutions) converges with XBRL’s versatility and usability in areas other than pure business reporting. This convergence is critical because the future of XBRL will be shaped by how useful it is for analysis and decision-making.

Singapore is a very important business centre. Successful and useful XBRL in Singapore could start off a wave of such broader implementations in the Asia-Pacific region and create similar value for everyone involved. 

About DataTracks:

DataTracks is a global leader in preparation of financial statements in XBRL and iXBRL formats. With over 10 years’ experience, DataTracks prepares more than 12,000 XBRL statements annually for filing with regulators such as SEC in the United States, HMRC in the United Kingdom, Revenue in Ireland, ACRA in Singapore and MCA in India. DataTracks provides world-class services with its team of certified accountants experienced in US GAAP, UK GAAP, India GAAP, SFRS and IFRS.

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