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Over-the-counter markets can be used to trade stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities. This is a decentralized market that has, unlike a standard exchange, no physical location. That’s why it’s also referred to as off-exchange trading. There are many reasons why a company may trade OTC, but it’s not an option that provides much exposure or even a lot of liquidity. Trading on an exchange, though, does. But is there a way for companies to move from one to the other.
Why Switch Stock Exchanges
There are a variety of reasons why a company may want to transfer to a bigger, official exchange. Given its size, companies that meet the requirements of the NYSE occasionally move their stock there for increased visibility and liquidity. A company listed on several exchanges around the world may choose to delist from one or more in order to curb costs and focus on its biggest investors. In some cases, firms have to involuntarily move to a different exchange when they no longer meet the financial or regulatory requirements of their current exchange.
OTC vs. Major Exchange
Over-the-Counter (OTC) securities are those that are not listed on an exchange like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq. Instead of trading on a centralized network, these stocks trade through a broker-dealer network. Securities trade OTC is because they don’t meet the financial or listing requirements to list on a market exchange. They are also low-priced and are thinly traded.
OTC securities trading takes place in a few different ways. Traders can place buy and sell orders through the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB), an electronic service offered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). There is also the OTC Markets Group—the largest operator of over-the-counter trading—which has eclipsed the OTCBB. Pink Sheets is another listing service for OTC penny stocks that normally trade below $5 per share.
Securities listed on major stock exchanges, on the other hand, are highly traded and priced higher than those that trade OTC. Being able to list and trade on an exchange gives companies exposure and visibility in the market. In order to list, they must meet financial and listing requirements, which vary by exchange. For instance, many exchanges require companies to have a minimum number of publicly-held shares held at a specific value. They also require companies to file financial disclosures and other paperwork before they can begin listing.