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Since OTC are typically trades executed outside an exchange or which boycotts listings, OTC securities trade by broker-dealers who negotiate directly with one another over computer networks and by phone using the OTCBB. The dealers act as market makers using the Pink Sheets and the OTC Bulletin Board.

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OTC Networks

The OTC Markets Group operates some of the most well-known networks, such as the Best Market (OTCQX), the Venture Market (OTCQB), and the Pink Open Market. Although OTC networks are not formal exchanges such as the NYSE, they still have eligibility requirements. For example, the OTCQX does not list the stocks that sell for less than five dollars—known as penny stocks—shell companies, or companies going through bankruptcy. The OTCQX Best Market includes securities of companies that have the largest market caps and greater liquidity than the other markets. Through the OTC marketplaces, you can find the stocks of companies that are small and developing. Depending on the listing platform, these companies may also submit reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators. OTCBB stocks will usually have a suffix of “OB” and must file financial statements with the SEC. Another trading platform is the Pink Sheets and these stocks come in a wide variety. These businesses do not meet the requirements of the SEC.

While buying shares of this nature may involve less transactional costs, they are prime for price manipulation and fraud. These stocks will usually have a suffix of “PK” and are not required to file financial statements with the SEC. Although Nasdaq operates as a dealer network, Nasdaq stocks are generally not classified as OTC because the Nasdaq is considered a stock exchange. This also applies to the cryptocurrencies market only in this case, the OTC trades are often significantly large which is also traded off exchange with the third party guarantees in place.