XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is a language for the electronic communication of business and financial data worldwide. As one of the family of "XML" languages, it is becoming a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the Internet.

XBRL is managed by an international non-profit consortium of over 600 companies, organisations and government agencies. It is an open standard, free of license fees. It is already being put to practical use in a number of countries and implementations of XBRL are growing rapidly around the world. (Source: http://www.xbrl.org/)

Providing major benefits in the analysis and communication of business information, XBRL offers cost savings, greater efficiency, and improved accuracy and reliability to all those involved in using financial data.

How XBRL works

Under XML, identifying tags are applied to items of data so that they can be processed efficiently by computer software. XBRL is a powerful and flexible version of XML which has been defined specifically to meet the requirements of business and financial information. It enables unique identifying tags to be applied to items of financial data, such as ‘net profit’. However, these are more than simple identifiers. They provide a range of information about the item, such as whether it is a monetary item, percentage or fraction. XBRL allows labels in any language to be applied to items, as well as accounting references or other subsidiary information.

XBRL can show how items are related to one another. It can thus represent how they are calculated. It can also identify whether they fall into particular groupings for organisational or presentational purposes. Most importantly, XBRL is easily extensible, so companies and other organisations can adapt it to meet a variety of special requirements.

XBRL works by adding “information about information”, through the use of “metadata” or “descriptive data” (tags). This allows computers to relate to or communicate with one another without human intervention.

International Adoption of XBRL

XBRL financial reporting is implemented in many other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and closer to home, Japan, China and India. It is also gaining much traction amongst the stock exchanges and regulators globally in a move to harness greater value from submitted business and financial information.

Unlocking the Value of Business Data with XBRL

A key advantage of XBRL is greater transparency as data can be sliced and diced almost immediately for analysis with software tools. This affords a far wider scope and complexity for business analytics than manual comparison of financial statements.

You will be able to tap on a new source of data analysis, to help to interpret financial information, develop benchmarks, conduct peer and industry comparisons and recommend ways to improve operational efficiencies and increase the bottom line. With more companies filing in full XBRL, analysis of business data can be more efficiently generated and made available to the business community.

Locally, online analytical tools like the Singapore Financial Direct provide such business analytics capabilities. ACRA has also developed the Corporate Compliance and Financial Profile (CCFP), an electronic report that provides a holistic and quick overview of a company in terms of its compliance status, financial profile and basic profile information. You may tap on such XBRL enabled data to enhance your business decision making process.

Free Data Analysis Available on BizFinx

For you to experience the business value of XBRL enabled data, ACRA is offering the Free Data Analysis (FDA) report via the BizFinx portal. No login is required.

Using a set of financial ratios (revenue growth, net profit margin, return on assets, total asset turnover), data analysis will be provided in the following ways:

  • Trend analysis up to 5 years on the performance of a selected company; and
  • Benchmarking your selected company’s performance against the industry and your selected peers (up to 6 companies).
Revenuegrowth

To use the FDA tool, please visit the BizFinx portal.

XBRL Implementation history and project milestones of XBRL filing by ACRA

2007

Launch of FS Manager

XBRL filing requirements was first implemented in 2007 for corporate financial reporting. The main objectives are to enable a pro-enterprise financial reporting environment for businesses in Singapore and a value-enhancing information flow to the local and international business community.

2012

January - April
Needs Requirements Study

To identify the needs of preparers and consumers of XBRL financial statements, needs requirements study was conducted, through the use of questionnaires and focus group discussions. 81 organisations spanning across the financial reporting chain, including government agencies, accounting software vendors, preparers and consumers participated.

May - June
Public consultation for revised filing requirements and taxonomy

From 14 May – 11 June, a public consultation was held to gather public feedback on proposed revisions to XBRL filing requirements and the draft of the new ACRA taxonomy. A summary of the responses to feedback gathered from the public consultation was then published in November 2012.

Learn more about the public consultation exercise.

2013

January - February
BizFinx Preparation Tool - Focus Group Testing

ACRA held focus groups with accounting firms, companies, corporate secretarial firms and course trainers, for testing on the new proposed BizFinx preparation tool. Feedback was gathered from over 70 participants (e.g. technical feedback on the tool templates in meeting the requirements of the accounting standards and reporting needs of majority of companies, feedback on the usability of the tool.)

March - April
BizFinx Preparation Tool - Public consultation

public consultation was held to gather feedback on usability of the preparation tool. 

ACRA summarised all public feedback received on the preparation tool, and a  response paper was published.

27 June
Release of Revised XBRL Filing Requirements and Beta Version of Preparation Tool

ACRA announced the revised XBRL filing requirements and released a beta version of the new BizFinx preparation tool to allow companies to make advanced preparations. This will provide companies with sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the revised filing requirements.

press release (PDF, 363KB) was published in relation to the above.

12 Nov
Release of Latest Version of Preparation Tool

2014

3 March
Launch of BizFinx

The Practice Direction (PDF,363KB) seeks to inform companies on the revisions to the filing requirements for financial statements in XBRL. 

The BizFinx factsheet (PDF,1.79MB) provides a quick summary of the BizFinx implementation.

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