Information, news and technology group, Reuters, has become the first publicly listed company in Europe to release its financial results on the Internet using a prototype of a new XML standard, Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), to publish its third quarter 2001 trading statement.
XBRL provides the financial community with a standard way of digitally publishing, extracting and exchanging company financial reports and associated information. The standard is being developed by XBRL.org, an international consortium of key players from the accounting industry and companies concerned with the handling of financial information.
Reuters has been working with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the UK XBRL Working Group, both of whom are taking an active role in developing the new standard, to deploy XBRL in its latest financial results.
Using industry definitions to describe and identify each item of financial information, the XBRL format is designed to make it easier for users to extract the information required and then analyse or integrate this into their own applications.
Anne Molyneux, director of technical affairs, ICAEW, says Reuters' initiative marks the start of a programme of broad testing of XBRL over the coming months, which will lead to publication of a UK version. "This will enable general use of XBRL by companies and far more efficient financial communications," she predicts.