CANADA’s securities regulators are launching a voluntary eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) pilot program to gain real-world experience with interactive financial data.
Beginning in May, volunteer issuers will be able to file XBRL financial statements with the country’s SEDAR regulatory filingsrepository. However, volunteers will also have to continue submitting their official filings in PDF. XBRL is a set of standardized computer-readable labels for financial information.
“The purpose of the voluntary program is to help the Canadian marketplace gain practical knowledge and experience in preparing, filing and using XBRL information,” said a notice from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), a coordinating body for the country’s provincial and territorial securities regulators. “It will also help the CSA assess the usefulness of XBRL as it considers whether to make filing in this format a requirement.”
The move mirrors a similar program launched by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year. That program, which offers expedited reviews of filings to entice volunteers, has so far attracted fewer than 40 participants. The SEC’s XBRL filings can be viewed using the SEC’s Interactive Financial Report Viewer.
Canadian regulators last year surveyed market participants on their interest in XBRL. The CSA said the three-month survey yielded 150 responses which confirmed the CSA’s “impressions about the lack of practical knowledge and experience with XBRL in the Canadian marketplace.”
In the survey, 83% of respondents said they favored regulators introducing either a voluntary or a mandatory XBRL filing program. However, only 53% were aware of XBRL before they received the regulators’ notice and survey. Virtually no investors or issuers had used the interactive data format.