xBRL-CSV Format – A Primer

xBRL-CSV is a format that allows regulators, companies, and data providers to transact with high volumes of granular data compactly. The benefits of the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) standard are well-documented. XBRL and the more advanced Inline XBRL are being used by thousands of companies to file transparent, high-quality digital reports to regulators across the globe. 

The XBRL standard is developed and maintained by XBRL International – a global not-for-profit organization whose stated aim is to improve the accountability and transparency of business performance globally. One of XBRL International’s many initiatives is the Open Information Model (OIM), which is meant to modernize and improve XBRL by introducing new ways to work with the standard. OIM also tries to ‘decouple’ XBRL from its XML roots and allows users of the standard to choose between various interoperable formats, including XML.

Three of the formats being developed under the OIM effort are as follows:

  • xBRL-CSV – Helps collect high-volume, granular data; easy on database operations
  • xBRL-JSON – Makes XBRL data easy to use and achieves higher Interoperability
  • xBRL-XML – The traditional way of working with XBRL

In this blog, we discuss the xBRL-CSV format in some detail.

The xBRL-CSV Format

xBRL-CSV enables entities to publish high volumes of granular data with their regulators. The format allows flexibility in the structuring of CSV tables, with reporting layouts optimized for report types and taxonomy modeling approaches.

Granular data: Data broken down into the tiniest possible pieces to make information more easily digestible is called granular data. Data that is not granulated and is in large chunks makes analysis difficult. 

Comma-separated value (CSV): CSV is a popular format used to store data. CSV files are simple to create and comprehend. They make it easy to manipulate and share the data in different ways. 

xBRL-CSV combines the very efficient and widely-used CSV format with the XBRL format, which facilitates the creation of structured data backed with relevant taxonomies, robust validations, definitions, and multilingual data exchange.

Benefits Of The xBRL-CSV Format

  • Efficiency: The format provides an efficient representation of reports with high volumes of granular data
  • Readability: CSV data and supporting metadata files can be made available to stakeholders of information in an easily-digestible form
  • Editability: The supporting metadata files of CSV data might be easy to edit. However, since xBRL-CSV is applied to large datasets, the editability of CSV data isn’t itself a concern

Simplicity: xBRL-CSV is meant to help document authors and software vendors avoid complexity while producing high volumes of data

xBRL-CSV Format: Some Practical Use Cases

USE CASE #1: Bank Of Russia

The Bank of Russia became the first regulator to allow its filers the option of using the xBRL-CSV format starting with the reporting periods on or after 30 April 2021. Bank of Russia’s implementation of xBRL-CSV gave the following learnings.

  • Regulators and similar bodies can accept large volumes of data with ease in a compact form. Compared to XBRL data, xBRL-CSV file sizes were at least 15 times smaller
  • The reports received by the Bank of Russia retained all the advantages of XBRL and allowed for a meaningful data analysis

USE CASE #2: European Banking Authority

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has started supporting the xBRL-CSV reporting format to facilitate the collection of granular data. EBA’s reporting framework Version 3.1 took effect from September 2021. It is now being upgraded to the newer Version 3.2 which is going to be implemented in phases:

  • Phase 1 was released on 10 March 2022
  • Phase 2 will be published in Q2 2022
  • Phase 3 will be published in Q3 2022

This new reporting requirement will come into force from December 2022.

USE CASE #3: Standard Business Reporting

Standard Business Reporting (SBR) is the Dutch national standard for the digital exchange of business reports with authorities and banks. The SBR ran a pilot project. The insights were that there was an extraordinary reduction in the size of files (xBRL-CSV file was cut by 98.2%.) compared to traditionally used XBRL files.

A Format That Holds Promise

With the global trend shifting towards high volumes of data needing detailed analysis, the finance and information technology communities and regulators need to find ways to minimize the costs and ease the procedures associated with high-quality data creation. To that effect, the xBRL-CSV format holds much promise.

It remains to be seen how the XBRL standard itself develops from its present function of being a format trusted by regulators and companies the world over for the creation, access, and analysis of high-quality digital data.

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IRIS CARBON® a cloud-based, collaborative XBRL/iXBRL report creation platform – is backed by XBRL experts with over 17 years of experience. The platform helps create high-quality XBRL reports for multiple global regulators.