oa Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - Financial reporting on the internet in South Africa
The inherent nature of the Internet affects financial reporting in the sensethat information on a website is available to anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Financial reporting on the Internet reduces the cost of financial reporting,makes instantaneous reporting a reality, adds breadth and depth tobusiness reporting, allows analytical tools to be used on underlying businessdata and makes it easier to disseminate reports to any place in theworld where there is a computer.
A cursory exploration of financial reporting on the websites of SouthAfrican companies reveals great variations in terms of the amount of content(e.g. summary financial statements vs detailed financial statements),the style of presentation (e.g. similar to paper-based reports vs inclusion ofmulti-media) and the manner in which companies incorporate navigationaids (e.g. hyperlinks, search boxes and others). The advantages of theInternet as a new mode of information dissemination are clear, but Internetfinancial reporting creates a number of challenges for companies and theirauditors as well as for regulatory and standard-setting organisations. Thispaper assesses Internet reporting in South Africa. It explores the manner inwhich financial and certain non-financial information is presented on companies'websites and determine whether reporting practices on the websites ofSouth African companies differ from those of their international counterparts.
The study revealed that although Internet usage in South Africa has expandedas a medium for presentation of financial information via companies'websites, top South African companies use their websites as a bulletinboard with limited real-time financial information and note disclaimers.
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