Over the Counter (OTC)

Updated on January 4, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Over the Counter (OTC) Meaning

Over the counter contracts, popularly known as OTC contracts, are financial contracts that are not traded via exchange or through a standardized agreement but are traded bilaterally between the participants with terms of contract mutually negotiated.

Types of Over the Counter (OTC) Contracts

Over the counter contracts can be classified into 2 broad categories:

Types of Over the Counter (OTC) Contracts

#1 – Based on Type of Market Participants

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#2 – Based on Type of Derivative Contracts

OTC contracts can be further classified based on the underlying commodity or financial instrumentFinancial InstrumentFinancial instruments are certain contracts or documents that act as financial assets such as debentures and bonds, receivables, cash deposits, bank balances, swaps, cap, futures, shares, bills of exchange, forwards, FRA or forward rate agreement, etc. to one organization and as a liability to another organization and are solely taken into use for trading purposes.read more as follows:

Example of Over the Counter (OTC)

Let’s take an example of over the contract (OTC).

Consider an airline that wants to hedge its risk by taking positions on oil derivative contracts. The airline can buy oil futures from the market but the exchange would only provide them with a standardized contract for 1 month, 1 year, 5 years or 10 years. However, the firm needs to hedge only for 120 days. in that case, they can either purchase a 1-month contract and roll over for the next four months leading to transaction costs or can buy an OTC contract with another party and add further customizations and also saving on the transaction costs.

Over the Counter (OTC)

Advantages of Over the Counter (OTC)

Some of the advantages of over the counter (OTC) are as follows:

Disadvantages of Over the Counter (OTC)

Some of the disadvantages of over the counter (OTC) are as follows:

Important Points About Over the Counter (OTC)

Some of the important points of over the counter (OTC) are as follows:


OTC derivatives market is huge and an integral part of today’s financial markets. They grew rapidly on account of increased financial awareness and improvements in technology from the 1980s to the early 2000s. They can be effective in hedging risk but need precision as they can lead to catastrophic events if not managed properly.

This has been a guide to Over the Counter (OTC) and it’s meaning. Here we discuss examples and categories of OTC contracts along with advantages and disadvantages.  You can learn more from the following articles –

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