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What Is Interactive Data and Who's Using It?
Interactive data can provide investors quicker access to the information they want in a form that's easily used and can help companies prepare the information more quickly and more accurately.
Using today's disclosure documents, investors who seek specific information directly from the source must often manually search lengthy corporate annual reports or lengthy mutual fund documents. Even if these documents are online, they are often in a plain-text format with limited search capability. The need to search for and extract particular information in such documents can be time consuming.
Interactive data allows investors and others to pinpoint facts and figures within today's often lengthy disclosure documents. Using interactive data, an investor can immediately pull out specific information and compare it to information from other companies, performance in past years, and industry averages. As more companies embrace interactive data, sophisticated analysis tools now used by financial professionals could become available to the average investor. Meanwhile, for the financial professionals and financial publishers, analyzing companies could become cheaper and easier. Interactive data also may help filers improve their reporting processes. Filers using interactive data may be able to consolidate enterprise financial information more quickly and potentially more reliably across operating units within different operating systems.
Data becomes interactive when it is labeled using a computer markup language that can be processed by software for sophisticated viewing and analysis. These computer markup languages use standard sets of definitions, or taxonomies, to enable the automatic extraction and exchange of data. Interactive data taxonomies can be applied — much like bar codes are applied to merchandise — to allow computers to recognize that data and feed it into analytical tools. XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is one such language that has been developed specifically for business and financial reporting.
The Commission has already implemented interactive data in many contexts throughout its disclosure system. Since 2003, the Commission has required reports of securities holdings and transactions under Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act to be submitted in a tagged format. In early 2009, the Commission published three final rules requiring XBRL tagging of certain disclosure information for operating companies, mutual funds, and credit rating agencies. The Commission continues to investigate ways to further integrate interactive data into its disclosure system.
Meanwhile, a growing list of foreign and domestic agencies and other entities have also begun to incorporate interactive data into their disclosure systems, including:
Interactive data will be used in Australia's Standard Business Reporting program, which will simplify and expedite the reporting process for Australian companies reporting to multiple government agencies.
Interactive data is currently required by the National Bank of Belgium's Central Balance Sheets Office for standardized annual accounts filed with it by Belgian companies.
The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have developed XBRL taxonomies for listed companies and mutual funds.
Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS)
CEBS is developing a taxonomy for the Common Solvency Ratio Reporting Framework (COREP) and a taxonomy for Financial Reporting (FINREP) for credit institutions that use International Accounting Standards or International Financial Reporting Standards for financial statements.
Irish reporting companies are using interactive data in quarterly industry surveys issued by the Central Statistics Office.
Financial services companies are using XBRL to report monthly balance sheet information to the Bank of Japan. Thousands of listed companies are submitting earnings reports and corporate governance reports in XBRL format to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is requiring companies to file their financial statements in an XBRL interactive data format.
The Securities Commission of Spain (CNMV) began requiring the use of XBRL in 2005 for financial statements reported by listed companies. Mutual funds are also now using XBRL to report financial statements and details of their portfolios to the CNMV.
Small and medium-sized companies are filing company reports in an XBRL format with Sweden's Companies Registration Office.
The United Kingdom's Companies House launched a project to accept company accounts in XBRL format from audit-exempt UK companies. HM Revenue and Customs launched an online service to accept company tax filings in XBRL format.
Banks submit call reports to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in an XBRL format.