Do you know what eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) stands for? It is an open, independent financial reporting system that processes and communicates financial data efficiently and accurately.

The digital technologies for financial reporting that were previously available, such as Portable Document Format (PDF) and HyperText Markup Language (HTML), were limited, as shown in Figure 1. Search engines, for example, do not index information in PDF, whereas HTML cannot simply identify reporting elements and effectively translate data into information. Based on the XBRL International (2020), the first element in XBRL is XBRL taxonomy, which is defined as a dictionary of business concepts. The second component is Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schema, which stands for important information on values. It was created to make information exchange on the internet easier. The third component is the XBRL specification, also known as XBRL syntax or technical rules for data tagging. The XBRL Instance Document report refers to business reporting done uniquely and published in a unique format.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Traditional Reporting and XBRL

The Early Adopters

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was the first to adopt XBRL for use in the equity market, followed by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). According to XBRL International (2020), XBRL has been adopted by various regulators in the UK (HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)), USA (SEC), Japan (Japan Financial Services Agency), Denmark (Danish Business Registrar), and Europe (European Securities and Markets Authority). The first regulator to adopt XBRL in Australia was the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA). While the first regulator that used XBRL for regulatory filings was the Dutch Water Authority in 2004 in Netherland. HMRC was among the early adopters that mandated XBRL in 2011 in the UK, followed by the Companies House (CH).

China, which voluntarily adopted the XBRL filing programme in 2003 and mandated XBRL reporting by the Shanghai Share Exchange and the Shenzhen Share Exchange, was the first Asian country to do so. Aside from China, Japan's National Tax Agency, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) have all expressed interest in adopting XBRL. Similarly, Korea has been a leader in XBRL adoption since 2003, with the KOSDAQ Share Exchange requiring all publicly traded companies to file financial reporting in the XBRL format. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore, on the other hand, has required incorporated companies to file financial reporting using XBRL since November 2007. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange, and the National Stock Exchange have all been using XBRL since 2007. In Indonesia, the Central Bank of Indonesia (BI) was the first regulator to use XBRL, with the Indonesian Stock Exchange following suit in 2016.

Where is Malaysia heading?

To be aligned with the development, Malaysia also took this initiative to embark with XBRL since 2010, which started with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Securities Commission (SC), Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM), and Inland Revenue Board Of Malaysia (IRBM). In 2012, BNM implemented XBRL-based financial reporting as part of an enterprise-wide initiative to transform and upgrade data management and system architecture in organisations under its supervision. Meanwhile, in 2012, SC launched the Private Retirement Scheme (PRS), a pilot project that focuses on XBRL in statistical and financial reporting. SC investigated the XBRL project and launched a small pilot project for XBRL reporting. SSM took the initiative to adopt XBRL in 2010, and the financial reporting taxonomy was released in 2014 as SSM Taxonomy (SSMT). SSM had also launched system to eliminate all manual logging and switched to automated online processes, the Malaysian Business Reporting System (MBRS) with the MBRS preparation Tool (mTool). MBRS will allows the submission of Annual Return (AR) and Financial Statements and Report (FS) together with Exemption Applications (EA). After researching the XBRL processes and experiences, IRBM began XBRL development in 2011. The IRBM intended to use the XBRL to streamline financial reporting and tax return submissions to improve future analysis. The IRBM has created the Malaysian Income Tax Reporting System (MITRS), which uses the LHDNM taxonomy and to submit the tax working sheets. MITRS implementation for the company under audit / investigation has started in 2020.

Moving forward

At this moment, accounting practitioners need to be ready to embark on XBRL following the case of MBRS, as highlighted in Accountants Today by the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) (Ilias, Ghani, & Azhar, 2021). Practitioners must be equipped with knowledge and skills to prepare financial reporting beyond the traditional paper-based format. The harmonisation of XBRL implementation in Malaysia may encourage many government agencies to adopt XBRL in the future and motivate more accounting practitioners to be ready with XBRL. With this, Malaysia may climb to integrate both financial and non-financial information where government agencies and companies would express performance in a digital universal format, regardless of the information provided.


XBRL International (2020). An Introduction to XBRL. Retrieved from :

Ilias, A., Ghani, E. K., & Azhar, Z. (2021). XBRL Adoption in Malaysia: A Way Forward for SMPs. Accountants Today. The Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Available at: