Is cryptocurrency an asset for a company that transacts in it? Bitmain Technologies, the world’s largest designer of products used for mining cryptocurrencies, is bringing its IPO to Hong Kong. This has definitely created a lot of buzz in the cryptocurrency filed. It has also created a lot of interest in the accounting world.

Cryptocurrency adds a level of complexity in accounting. When you pay for goods/services used to produce your final product and when you receive payment for the final product; those transactions are all categorized under operating cash flows. But now consider that you pay in physical currency; but you receive payment in cryptocurrency – so not physical currency. The way Bitmain is accounting for the inflow is, it considers it as cash from investing. So not a operating transaction but an investing transaction. They invest in cryptocurrency and when they need physical currency they convert the cryptocurrency.

Also they are accounting for the cryptocurrency at cost; in order to avoid distorting the financials due to huge fluctuations in the world of cryptocurrency. As these are material numbers on the financials and considered assets on the books of Bitmain, I am sure the investors would like to understand how the fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrencies affects the financials. Might be a better idea to revalue the assets to fair value at end of each accounting period.

Their IPO documents are definitely a very interesting read.