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What is the Full Form of OTC

OTC: Over the Counter

OTC stands for Over the Counter. The term "over-the-counter" (OTC) is the method of trading securities through an intermediary broker-dealer system in contrast to a centralized exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange. Over-the-counter trading can include bonds, stocks, and derivatives. These can be financial instruments that get their value from their asset, such as the commodity.

If companies don't comply with the requirements for listing on a typical market exchange, such as the NYSE or the NASDAQ, their securities may be traded OTC; however, they may be subject to some regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

OTC Full Form

Different types of OTC Securities

1. Stocks

The equity markets that trade through OTC are usually small-sized companies that are not allowed by the $295,000 price for listing on NYSE, as well as up to $75,000 for Nasdaq. A few well-known big firms are listed in OTC markets, including Allianz SE, BASF SE, Roche Holding Ag, and Danone SA.

2. Bonds

Bonds are not traded on an exchange that is formal, but banks offer them on broker-dealer networks. They are also classified as OTC securities.

3. Derivatives

Derivatives are private agreements arranged through a broker. They could be forwards, options, futures, or other contracts whose value is determined by the value of an asset, such as stocks.

4. ADRs

American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), also known as ADSs or bank certificates, indicate a certain number of shares of stock of a foreign country.

5. Foreign Currency

Foreign currencies that are traded on the Forex exchange are a part of the over-the-counter exchange.

6. Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum are traded through the OTC market.

OTC Markets

OTC Markets Group operates some of the most popular networks, including the Best Market (OTCQX), the Venture Market (OTCQB), and the Pink Open Market. Even though OTC networks aren't formal exchanges like the NYSE, they do have requirements for eligibility set through the SEC.


It is important to note that the OTCQX does not contain stocks that are sold for less than $5 (penny stocks, shell businesses, or companies in bankruptcy). The OTCQX contains just 4% of the OTC stocks and is subject to the highest standards for reporting and the most rigorous oversight from the SEC. It also includes foreign companies that are listed on foreign exchanges and U.S. companies that plan to be listed on either the NYSE or Nasdaq in the near future.


The OTCQB is commonly referred to as "the venture market," with a focus on emerging companies that must submit their financial statements to the SEC and be subject to supervision.

Pink Sheets

OTC Pink Sheets is the riskiest type of OTC trading, and there is no requirement to disclose financials or sign up at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Certain legitimate companies are listed in these Pink Sheets. However, there are numerous shell businesses and those with no real business operations that are listed on this list as well.

The pros and cons of the OTC Market

Bonds, ADRs, and derivatives are traded on the OTC market, but investors are more at risk when they invest in more risky OTC securities. The filing requirements of the various listing platforms differ, and business financials can be difficult to locate. Financial advisors generally view investing in OTC shares to be a risky venture.

Stocks traded OTC aren't typically renowned for their high volume of trades. The lower volume of shares means that there might not be an eager buyer when it is time to sell shares. The spread between the bid price and asking price usually is greater since these stocks could fluctuate on economic or market information.

The OTC marketplace can be a viable alternative for smaller companies or for those who don't wish to or are unable to offer their services on stock exchanges. Listing on the standard exchange can be an expensive and time-consuming procedure that is outside the financial capacity of many smaller businesses. Businesses may also discover that listing on the OTC market can provide the ability to access capital quickly through the selling of shares.

Is the OTC Market Safe?

It is believed that the OTC market is typically regarded as high risk, with less stringent reporting requirements and less transparency than OTC securities. Many of the stocks traded OTC have smaller share prices and are highly volatile. While some stocks on the OTC market will eventually be listed on major exchanges, many OTC stocks are not listed. Like any investment, it is crucial to investigate the companies and stocks in the most thorough manner possible.

Example of Over-the-Counter market

A market that is over-the-counter is a market where financial securities can be exchanged through a broker-dealer's network rather than on a financial exchange. Over-the-counter markets are not centralized and take place with two different parties, like the transaction between two people who purchase and sell shares of a business that is not listed on an exchange. The market that is over-the-counter can comprise any security like commodities, equities as well as derivatives.

How can an Investor Purchase Securities on the OTC Market?

To buy security from OTC, you must first identify the OTC market, then the specific security you want to buy, and the investment amount. OTCQX is among the biggest and most well-known markets to purchase OTC stocks. The majority of brokers who sell securities listed on exchanges also offer OTC securities. This is done via the platform of a broker or by telephone.

What is an Over-the-Counter derivative?

It refers to any security traded on the OTC market. A derivative is a financial security that is valued by the underlying asset, like a stock or commodity. The owner of the derivative is not the owner of the asset that is used to determine its value; however, for certain derivatives, for instance, commodities futures, it's possible to acquire the physical asset when the contract for the derivative expires. Apart from futures and other derivatives, there are swaps and forwards.

What exactly is Otcmkts?

Otcmkts or OTC markets (over-the-counter markets) are markets where securities trade but aren't listed on major exchanges within the U.S. OTC securities trade rather through a broker-dealer system typically because they don't comply with the rules of major exchanges.

The Bottom Line

OTC is the process of trading securities on a broker-dealer's network in contrast to an exchange with a centralized structure like the New York Stock Exchange. Even though OTC networks aren't formal exchanges, they do require eligibility criteria set by the SEC. Investors are able to trade bonds, stock derivatives, and foreign exchange currencies through the OTC market.

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