Monetary Assets

Monetary Assets consists of those assets that have a value to pay or receive in a fixed number of units of currency. However, before we delve into monetary assets – let us try to understand why an asset will be monetary or non-monetary. What is the reason for having this distinction? Accounting Standards Board of India and GAAP has defined both of these terms. Each of them serves a purpose and the distinctions are important to understand.

Defining Monetary and Non-Monetary

When one thinks of monetary assets – one question that comes to mind.  Are not all assets monetary? Technically speaking, a monetary item is that which has a fixed value in a particular currency. The fixed value does not change even if the purchasing power of the currency changes with inflation.

Monetary and Non-Monetary Items

To exactly understand monetary items – we need to distinguish between monetary and non-monetary as well.


A non-monetary item changes its value and does not have a fixed value in a currency with the change in time. A monetary item has a fixed value which does not change with time. Example of the non-monetary item could be a land, plant, and machinery, etc.

Cash Conversion

Another important distinction is the quick convertibility of monetary items into cash. Non- monetary items will have issues with conversion due to various other factors as we will see ahead.

Change in Real Terms

Though monetary items have fixed dollar value but are subject to relative changes such as in purchasing power. For instance, an amount of $1000 can only buy you one bicycle now, and earlier it bought you 2 bicycles if you compare it to situation 5 years back. This means the role of inflation and changes in the value of a dollar will remain.


Unlike non-monetary items such as land, the value of monetary items is never restarted. For instance, real estate prices are subject to appreciation and depreciation, depending on the market sentiments.

Need for Defining Monetary Assets

For stability of accounting, monetary assets those assets whose value does not change over some time. An asset of $20,000 today will still be $20,000 even after one year. Having a stable value over some time is a must for an asset like cash. This will measure all the other assets that the company holds or has on the balance sheet. A monetary asset will not lose or gain value over some time. Therefore, you can measure and record all assets on books of accounts.

Examples of Monetary Assets

  • Investments in debt securities
  • Net investments in the lease
  • Deferred tax asset
  • Trade receivables
  • Cash is the mode of settling Other receivables
  • Deposits and bank accounts
  • Cash

Non-Monetary Assets

These are usually – plant & equipment, intangible assets such as goodwill, inventory, and property. Machinery valuation depends upon how obsolete it has become compared to advancement in new technology and supply-demand ratios. These measures are specific to non-monetary assets.

Assets Can be Either Monetary or Non-Monetary

Assets such as prepayments or advance payments can either be monetary or non-monetary since it is based on the contract with the party to which payment was made. If the pre-payment amount is non-refundable or no contract exists and probability to get the money back is quite low, then the accountant can treat it as a non-monetary asset.

Further, in such a case you can’t treat it as monetary because monetary assets are measured in terms of cash.

Treatment of Shares

  • Preference shares might be treated as monetary assets if the contract has the clause for the redemption of share by issuing entity. If the clause doesn’t exist, we can treat the share as a non-monetary asset.
  • Lack of clear directives allows the treatment of equity shares as monetary assets in most foreign countries.

Treatment as per International Standards

As per the International Accounting Standards, IAS 21, the current exchange value is used to restate and record monetary assets. Whereas, non-monetary assets are kept on the books of accounts at the original or historical prices.

Year-End Reporting

Closing rate is the basis of translating or recording monetary assets. When monetary assets arise as a result of foreign currency transaction the following situation might arise:

  • If the transaction settles in the same accounting period of the occurrence of the transaction, the exchange difference recognition should be in that period.
  • If the transaction settles in a subsequent accounting period, the difference is recognized in each period up to the date of settlement by the change in exchange rates during each period.


Thus, the two main components of differences between Monetary and Non-Monetary Assets are –

  • Liquidity
  • Change in Value

You can now view the Financial statements of a company and understand which are monetary and which are non-monetary assets. The monetary assets help in the day-to-day functioning of the company and operations. Fixed and Intangible assets are part of infrastructure as well but are Non-monetary assets due to longer time valuations.1–3

Tools A. Monetary asset. AccountingTools. [Source]
Company Affairs M of. Indian Accounting Standard (Ind AS) 21. [PDF]
Institute CF. Monetary Assets – Definition, Examples of Monetary Assets. Corporate Finance Institute. [Source]
Last updated on : April 13th, 2020
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