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Over-the-Counter (OTC)

Over-the-Counter (OTC)

What Is Over-the-Counter (OTC)?

Over-the-counter (OTC) alludes to the course of how securities are traded through a broker-dealer network as opposed to on a centralized exchange. Over-the-counter trading can include equities, debt instruments, and derivatives, which are financial contracts that get their value from an underlying asset, for example, a commodity.

At times, securities probably won't meet the requirements to have a listing on a standard market exchange, for example, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). All things considered, these securities can be traded over-the-counter.

Nonetheless, over-the-counter trading can incorporate equities that are listed on exchanges and stocks that are not listed. Stocks that are not listed on an exchange, and trade through OTC, are typically called over-the-counter equity securities, or OTC equities.

Figuring out Over-the-Counter

Stocks that trade by means of OTC are typically smaller companies that can't meet the exchange listing requirements of formal exchanges. In any case, numerous other types of securities additionally trade here. Stocks that trade on exchanges are called listed stocks, while stocks that trade through OTC are called unlisted stocks.

Trade transactions can occur through OTC Markets Group's electronic matching platforms: theOTCQX; OTCQB; and the Pink Open Market (otherwise called OTC Pink or "Pink Sheets").

Every one of these platforms contains a logically lower (i.e., riskier) tier of companies' stocks. Stocks in the most noteworthy tier OTCQX must meet different qualification criteria and contain shares of several foreign ADRs. The lowest tier is the OTC Pink, which has undeniably less rigid listing criteria and quality control.

FINRA used to run an OTC exchange known as the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB). FINRA authoritatively ceased operations of the OTCBB on Nov. 8, 2021.

Types of OTC Securities

The equities that trade by means of OTC are not just small companies. A few notable large companies are listed on the OTC markets. For example, the OTCQX trades in ADR shares of large foreign companies like Allianz SE, BASF SE, Roche Holding Ag, and Danone SA.

American depository receipts (ADRs), which represent shares in a stock that trade on a foreign exchange, are frequently traded OTC. Shares trade as such because the underlying company doesn't wish to or can't meet the severe exchange requirements. Likewise, the $295,000 cost to list on the NYSE โ€” up to $75,000 on Nasdaq โ€” makes a barrier for some companies.

Instruments, for example, bonds don't trade on a proper exchange as banks issue these debt instruments and market them through broker-dealer networks. These are additionally viewed as OTC securities. Banks save the cost of the exchange listing fees by matching buys and sells from clients inside or from another brokerage firm. Other financial instruments, for example, derivatives, additionally trade through the dealer network.

OTC Networks

The OTC Markets Group works probably the most notable networks, like the Best Market (OTCQX), the Venture Market (OTCQB), and the Pink Open Market. Albeit OTC networks are not conventional exchanges, for example, the NYSE, they actually have qualification requirements. For instance, the OTCQX doesn't list the stocks that sell for under five dollars โ€” known as penny stocks โ€” shell companies, or companies going through bankruptcy. The OTCQX Best Market incorporates securities of companies with the largest market covers and greater liquidity than the other markets.

Through the OTC marketplaces, you can find the stocks of companies that are small and creating. Contingent upon the listing platform, these companies may likewise submit reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators. OTCBB stocks will for the most part have a postfix of "OB" and must file financial statements with the SEC.

Another trading platform is the Pink Sheets, and these stocks arrive in a wide assortment. These businesses don't meet the requirements of the SEC. While buying shares of this nature might include less value-based costs, they are prime for price manipulation and fraud. These stocks will generally have a postfix of ".PK" and are not required to file financial statements with the SEC.

Despite the fact that Nasdaq works as a dealer network, Nasdaq stocks are generally not classified as OTC because Nasdaq is viewed as a stock exchange.

Upsides and downsides of the OTC Marketplace

As referenced before, bonds, ADRs, and derivatives additionally trade in the OTC marketplace. Be that as it may, investors ought to take great care while investing in additional speculative OTC securities. The filing requirements between listing platforms change, and some vital data, for example, business financials, might be difficult to find.

Most financial advisors think about trading in OTC shares as a speculative endeavor. Hence, investors must consider their investment risk tolerance and on the off chance that OTC stocks have a place in their portfolios. Be that as it may, with the additional risk of OTC shares comes the possibility of critical returns. Since these shares trade at lower values, and normally, for less conditional costs, they give a road to share price appreciation.

Stocks trading OTC are not, generally, known for their large volume of trades. Lower share volume means there may not be a ready buyer when it comes time to sell your shares. Likewise, the spread between the bid price and the ask price is normally larger. These stocks might take unstable actions on any market or economic data.

The OTC marketplace is an alternative for small companies or those who would rather not list on the standard exchanges. Listing on a standard exchange is a costly and tedious interaction and outside the financial capacities of numerous smaller companies. Companies may likewise find that listing in the OTC market gives quick access to capital through the sale of shares.


  • OTC provides access to securities not available on standard exchanges such as bonds, ADRs, and derivatives.

  • Fewer regulations on the OTC allows the entry of many companies who can not, or choose not to, list on other exchanges.

  • Through the trade of low-cost, penny stock, speculative investors can earn significant returns.


  • OTC stocks have less trade liquidity due to low volume which leads to delays in finalizing the trade and wide bid-ask spreads.

  • Less regulation leads to less available public information, the chance of outdated information, and the possibility of fraud.

  • OTC stocks are prone to make volatile moves on the release of market and economic data.

## Instances of OTC Securities

OTC Markets Group is the operator of the financial markets for OTCQX. "" records the most actively traded companies and data on the advances and decliners.

On a given day, the total dollar volume can surpass $2 billion, with over 7 billion shares trading hands. Companies incorporate the Chinese interactive media company Tencent Holdings LTD (TCEHY), the food and beverage goliath Nestle SA (NSRGY), and the healthcare company Bayer A.G. (BAYRY).


  • OTC trading advances equity and financial instruments that would otherwise be inaccessible to investors.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) securities are traded straightforwardly between counterparties without being listed on an exchange.
  • Securities that are traded over-the-counter might be worked with by a dealer or broker spend significant time in OTC markets.
  • Companies with OTC shares might raise capital through the sale of stock.


What Is an Example of an Over-the-Counter Market?

In financial trading, an over-the-counter market is a market where financial securities are traded through a broker-dealer network as opposed to on a financial exchange, which is known as exchange trading and is centralized. An over-the-counter market isn't centralized and happens between two gatherings. An illustration of an over-the-counter market would be a trade that happens between two people that buy and sell a share of a company that isn't listed on an exchange. An over-the-counter market can comprise of any security, like equities, commodities, and derivatives.

How Do You Buy a Security on the OTC Market?

To buy a security on the OTC market the initial step is to distinguish the specific security you need to purchase and the amount you need to invest. Certain markets give data on different securities that you ought to engage with. For instance, OTCQX is one of the largest and most all around regarded marketplaces for OTC stocks. Next, find a broker through which you can purchase the OTC security. The vast majority of the brokers that sell exchange-listed securities additionally sell OTC securities. When you have your broker and account set up, fund your account with the capital you might want to invest and afterward purchase your OTC security. This should be possible electronically on your broker's platform or through a call with your broker.

What Is an Over-the-Counter Derivative?

An over-the-counter derivative is any derivative security that is traded over-the-counter; importance between two gatherings and not over a centralized financial exchange. A derivative is a financial security whose not set in stone by an underlying asset, like a stock or a commodity. An owner of a derivative doesn't really possess the underlying asset yet on account of certain derivatives, for example, commodity futures, it is feasible to take delivery of the physical asset after the derivative contract terminates. Notwithstanding futures, other derivatives incorporate advances and swaps.