China’s Finance Ministry Drives Inclusion of Digital Assets on Balance Sheets

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The Ministry of Finance (MOF) is pushing for the further inclusion of digital assets on the balance sheets of Chinese businesses, as part of efforts to drive growth in China’s market for data as a factor of production.

On 9 December MOF issued the draft version of the “Provisional Regulations on Relevant Accounts Handling of Enterprise Data Resources” (企业数据资源相关会计处理暂行规定(征求意见稿)) for the solicitation of opinions from the public.

The Regulations state that data resources should be handled in accordance with prevailingenterprise accounting standards, as well as divided into the two categories of “data resources employed by enterprises internally” (企业内部使用的数据资源) and “data resources for external transactions by enterprises” (企业对外交易的数据资源).

“In the information era, the continual development of new economies and business models urgently requires that data enter the market for trading,” said Li Xiaohui (李晓慧), professor at the accounting faculty of the Central University of Finance and Economics, to Securities Daily.

“Firstly, it is necessary to resolve problems in relation to the confirmation, measurement and reporting of data assets. For this reason, now is the right time to clarify the relevant accounts handling procedures for enterprise data resources.

“Because at present large volumes of data resources that are not included on balance sheets are the databases or huge volumes of data formed by various organisations during the their operations, ownership of these data assets is not confirmed, and it’s not initially possible for them to be included on balance sheets as factors of production.

“At the same time, the value of individual items of data isn’t large, and it’s only after data is continually accumulated and subject to in-depth mining that it can invigorate operations and have value. Its value increases as the scope and vectors of data expand.

“This is the ongoing measurement problem for data resources, and for this reason ways of confirming value requires clear provisions in the new regulations.”