Subscription Billing Blog

New revenue recognition standards and the prophets of doom

The prophets of doom are enjoying a payday with the new revenue recognition standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

So-called “market experts” (our modern-day prophets) have been busy issuing dire warnings, predicting that companies who don’t adopt the new standards early enough will be unable to close their books, with their stock value crashing as a result.

A less commonly aired view – but one that receives attention in a new white paper – takes a more discerning approach. Authored by the financial experts at Proformative, the white paper argues that the new rev rec regulations will not necessarily force all companies to undergo dramatic change. It all depends, says Proformative, on the company’s product and service offerings, their charging model, their billing relationships and other factors.

Subscription businesses, for example, should be minimally impacted. One reason for this, of course, is the fact that the long-standing rev rec best practice for such businesses already conforms with the principles championed by the guidelines and as expressed in the “Five Steps” for determining how revenue should be recognized.

Take, for example, a recurring digital subscription – say $9.99 a month for access to an entertainment service, and see how it already complies. A consumer subscribes to the service (Step 1). The merchant grants access to the content (Step 2). The price is fixed (Step 3). The vendor’s performance obligation is to provide access to the service (Step 4). And the revenue is recognized on a daily basis (Step 5).

STEP 1:  Identify if there is a contract with a customer

STEP 2: Identify separate performance obligations in the contract

STEP 3: Determine transaction price.

STEP 4: Allocate transaction price to individual performance obligations in the contract

STEP 5: Recognize revenue when or as the entity satisfies performance obligations

This admittedly highly simplified view of the obligation does nevertheless reflect the reality. For many subscription companies, deploying the new rev rec guidelines may well require a minimal effort.   

So why all the excitement surrounding the guidelines? Is it possible that some of those drumming up the drama are also seeking to profit from their prophecies by touting a solution they happen to have at hand?

Download the full white paper “Understanding The New Revenue Recognition Accounting Standard For What Is – And Isn’t.”

For additional information, attend the live webinar “Revenue Recognition Implementation Considerations and Impact on Subscription Services” presented by Vindicia and Softrax on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 10:00 to 11:00 am PST.  Blagoja Golubovski, Vindicia director of product management, and Kristen Lawson, Softrax sales engineer, will discuss the actual impact of the new revenue recognition standards on subscription businesses.

About Author

Michael Isaacs

Michael Isaacs

Michael Isaacs is Director of Product Marketing at Vindicia. A veteran of Amdocs and former Amdocs portfolio evangelist for communications and entertainment, Michael is always running – either after customers, kids, or his marathon personal best.

read more

Digital payments and diversification for publishers: Reassessing paid-for digital strategy

Digital payments and diversification for publishers: Adopting a new paid-for digital mind set and new digital models