--> Best Online Share Trading Company in Indore

About Us
Help Desk
Contact Us
Sign In
  • Home
  • blogs
  • Exchange Traded Vs OTC Derivatives: Which is Right for You?

Exchange Traded Vs OTC Derivatives: Which is Right for You?

Exchange Traded Vs OTC Derivatives

Exchange Traded Vs OTC Derivatives: Which is Right for You?

In the realm of financial markets, derivatives play a significant role in enabling investors to manage risks, speculate on price movements, and enhance their portfolio returns. 

The two primary avenues for trading derivatives are through exchange-traded derivatives (ETDs) and over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. Both have distinct characteristics, advantages, and considerations. 

We will explore the differences between these two types of derivatives and help you understand which option might be right for you.

The Difference Between Exchange Traded Derivatives  and OTC Derivatives are:


Liquidity is a crucial factor to consider when choosing between exchange-traded and OTC derivatives. Exchange markets typically have higher liquidity due to their standardised nature, regulated trading platforms, and the presence of multiple market participants. 

The transparent order book in exchanges ensures that buyers and sellers can easily find counterparties for their trades, resulting in narrower bid-ask spreads.

On the other hand, OTC derivatives can exhibit lower liquidity since they are privately negotiated contracts between two parties. 

Without the centralised exchange infrastructure, finding a counterparty with the desired terms and conditions can be more challenging. This can result in wider bid-ask spreads and potentially higher transaction costs.


One of the key advantages of OTC derivatives is their flexibility and customization options. Since OTC contracts are privately negotiated, parties have the freedom to tailor the terms, notional amounts, maturity dates, and other contract features to suit their specific needs. 

This level of customization allows market participants to create highly tailored derivatives that precisely align with their risk management strategies or investment objectives.

In contrast, exchange-traded derivatives are standardised contracts that follow predefined rules set by the exchange. While this standardisation enhances liquidity and ease of trading, it limits the level of customization available. 

Standardised contracts may not perfectly match the requirements of every market participant, which can be a drawback for those seeking highly specific or complex derivatives.

Counterparty Risk

Counterparty risk refers to the risk that the other party in a derivative contract may default on their obligations. In the case of exchange-traded derivatives, the clearinghouse acts as the counterparty to all trades, thereby mitigating counterparty risk

The clearinghouse becomes the buyer to every seller and the seller to every buyer, ensuring that both parties fulfil their obligations. This arrangement provides a layer of security and reduces the potential for default.

OTC derivatives, however, lack a centralised clearinghouse, and the counterparty risk falls solely on the individual participants. 

While reputable financial institutions and clearing firms often participate in OTC markets, the absence of a clearinghouse introduces an element of counterparty risk that should be carefully evaluated and managed. 

In-depth due diligence and risk assessment of counterparties become essential considerations when trading OTC derivatives.

Regulation and Transparency

Exchange-traded derivatives are subject to stringent regulatory oversight, as exchanges operate under regulatory frameworks to ensure fair and transparent trading. 

These regulations include requirements for market surveillance, disclosure of trade information, and standardised reporting. 

The presence of a centralised exchange provides a level of transparency and regulatory control, promoting market integrity.

In contrast, OTC derivatives have fewer regulatory requirements. While OTC markets are still subject to certain regulations, the level of oversight and transparency is generally lower compared to exchange-traded markets.

This may offer more flexibility and confidentiality to market participants, but it also increases the importance of conducting thorough due diligence on counterparties and closely monitoring contractual agreements.

Costs and Accessibility

Exchange-traded derivatives often have lower transaction costs compared to OTC derivatives. 

The presence of multiple market participants, competitive pricing, and standardised contracts contribute to tighter bid-ask spreads and lower brokerage fees. Moreover, the centralised nature of exchanges makes it easier to compare prices and execute trades efficiently.

OTC derivatives, on the other hand, may involve higher transaction costs due to wider bid-ask spreads, negotiation costs, and potentially higher legal and operational expenses. 

Accessing OTC markets may require a higher level of financial sophistication and access to specific trading platforms or intermediaries.


Both exchange-traded derivatives and OTC derivatives have their own unique features and considerations. 

Exchange-traded derivatives offer higher liquidity, lower counterparty risk, and regulatory oversight, but they come with limited customization options. On the other hand, OTC derivatives provide greater flexibility and customization, but at the expense of potentially higher counterparty risk and lower liquidity.

When deciding which type of derivatives is right for you, it is essential to consider your risk appetite, trading objectives, financial resources, and the level of complexity required. 

Experienced investors and institutions often utilise a combination of both exchange-traded and OTC derivatives to achieve a well-rounded derivatives strategy. 

Understanding the key differences and weighing the pros and cons will empower you to make informed decisions based on your specific needs and circumstances.


"In trading, the ability to manage risk is just as important as the ability to generate profits." - Alexander Elder.



1) Which is better: exchange traded or OTC?

Ans - Liquidity: Exchange markets tend to exhibit greater liquidity compared to OTC markets, where liquidity can be lower.

Standardisation: Exchange-traded securities are usually standardised, whereas OTC securities offer a higher degree of customization.

2) What are the advantages of exchange-traded derivatives over OTC?

Ans - The exchange traded derivatives majorly comprise futures and options. Unlike over the counter derivatives, these contracts promote transparency by providing market-based pricing information. Furthermore, it increases liquidity and reduces flexibility and chances of negotiation.

3) Is OTC trading risky?

Ans - Risk and Reporting: The OTC market is often perceived as more risky due to its lenient reporting requirements and lower transparency compared to regulated exchanges.

Share Price and Volatility: Many stocks traded OTC have lower share prices and can be highly volatile in nature.


Related Blogs

Issued in the interest of investors: Prevent Unauthorised transactions in your trading and Demat account. Update your mobile numbers/email IDs with Tradingbells. Receive alerts and information of all debit and other important transactions in your trading and Demat account directly from Exchange/Depository on your mobile/email at the end of the day. KYC is a onetime exercise while dealing in securities markets. Once KYC is done through a SEBI registered intermediary (broker, DP, Mutual Fund etc.), you need not undergo the same process again when you approach another intermediary.

No need to issue cheques by investors while subscribing to IPO. Just write the bank account number and sign in the application form to authorise your bank to make payment in case of allotment. No worries of refund as money remains in investor's account.

2021-22, TradingBells All rights reserved