Over The Counter

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Over The Counter


Quick Summary of Over The Counter


In finance, OTC is a term which is related to the trade of stock directly among two individuals, companies or parties. OTC is short for over the counter. OTC may include bond or different types of goods, and is different from the exchange trade. In exchange trading, there is a central source present among the buyers and the sellers for the transactions. The main benefit of exchange trade is the security of transactions. Contrasted to that are trades in OTC, where there are many intermediates that try to become a source for connecting the buyer and the seller. The main advantage of OTC trade is that the fee of an intermediary is low. The stocks traded through exchange process should be of a high standard that can be traded openly in front of everyone and on the other hand the stocks that are non-standard are traded through OTC process of trading stock. The process of OTC trade is not so good because there is a risk of fraud in it. In OTC, there is also a risk in transactions for both parties.



Full Definition of Over The Counter


Over the counter in the short form is referred to as OTC. In the jargon of finance, it means a security, which due to its inability to fulfil listing requirements is not traded on concerned stock exchanges. For this kind of securities dealers or brokers directly negotiate among one another via phone and computer networks. However concerned regulatory bodies like NASD monitor these types of negotiation activities. OTC stocks are normally deemed to be quite risky. These stocks are normally not big enough to be traded on big stock exchanges. These stocks are also traded infrequently. Even research data on OTCs are rather difficult to obtain. OTC is also called unlisted stock. Financial instruments like bonds, which do not trade on any formal exchange, are also termed as OTC securities.

Over The Counter Market

OTC market is a decentralized securities market. This market is not enlisted on any stock exchange. Market participants in OTC market trade via phone, fax or Internet. They do not make use of any physical trading floor. Dealers buy at the bid price. They sell at prices reflecting competitive market conditions. In dollar value, the OTC market is the biggest of all US markets.

Over The Counter Stocks

New or small companies mostly offer over the counter stocks. OTCBB (Over The Counter Bulletin Board) and Pink Sheet are two prime over the counter markets of stock trading. Traders in over the counter stocks normally open account with concerned market brokers. This enables brokers to enter into negotiations with market makers on behalf of that person. Technology advancements have made this form of stock trading popular.

OTC Traded Stocks

The OTC trade of products is done by the individuals or companies that are known as market makers in the United States of America. That individual or the company quotes the rates of buying and selling of different stocks and there is a hope to get profit from the bid. This type of trading is done under the OTCBB and pink sheets securities. In the stock exchange group, there are no lists of stocks available that are traded through OTC. There are some requirements that an individual has to fulfil for the products that are quoted on OTC bulletin board and that requirement is reporting to the U.S securities exchange and commission. For the other types of OTC stocks, such as Pink Sheets have no need for reporting. The OTC Market Group Inc. has set some guidelines for the products which are related or traded through OTCQX.

OTC Contracts

OTC is an agreement between two individuals or companies that the one party is the buyer of stocks and the other one is the seller of the stock. In the agreement, both parties decide the price of the stock in the present time for selling it in the future. This agreement is done directly among the two, one who is buying and the other who is selling. The means used for these agreements can be a computer or a telephone. This kind of OTC trade is also known as the fourth market, which is direct and there is no broker between the two contractors.

Risk In OTC Trade

OTC stock trading is a risky process. There are also some counterparty risks in which the transactions and payments are not done which are settled or decided in the agreement. There is an organization present which is for the investors in the OTC trading system, that organization is known as the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. This association tells the contactors how to decrease the risk of fraud. According to this association, the contractors should be strong financially that can easily bear the nonpayment by the other party. The risk of nonpayment can also be decreased by not paying the other party first. Netting is a legally binding contract which can be used in lowering the risk.

Importance Of OTC Derivatives

In this modern era, OTC trading is playing a vital role in global finance. The OTC trading system is expanded a lot in the previous few years. It is a trading system with low rates because of no any person or broker between the contractors. In 2010, the OTC trading of stocks gave the benefit of an estimated 600 trillion US dollars. The New York Mercantile Exchange decreases the risks of performance of both parties and the transactions. This exchange makes both parties agree on transferring the trade to clear the transactions.


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Definition Sources


Definitions for Over The Counter are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 14th April, 2020 | 0 Views.