October 31, 2014
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OTC Equity Short Interest
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Overview and History of the OTCBB

The OTC Bulletin Board® (OTCBB) is a regulated quotation service that displays real-time quotes, last-sale prices, and volume information in over-the-counter (OTC) equity securities. An OTC equity security generally is any equity that is not listed or traded on NASDAQ or a national securities exchange.  OTCBB securities include national, regional, and foreign equity issues, warrants, units, American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), and Direct Participation Programs (DPPs).


In June 1990, the OTCBB began operation, on a pilot basis, as part of important market structure reforms to provide transparency in the OTC equities market.  The Penny Stock Reform Act of 1990 mandated the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to establish an electronic system that met the requirements of Section 17B of the Exchange Act. The system was designed to facilitate the widespread publication of quotation and last-sale information. Since December 1993, firms have been required to report trades in all domestic OTC equity securities through the Automated Confirmation Transaction ServiceSM(ACTSM) within 90 seconds of the transaction. 

In April 1997, the SEC approved the operation of the OTCBB on a permanent basis with some modifications, and in May 1997, DPPs became eligible for quotation on the OTCBB.  In April 1998, all foreign securities and ADRs that are fully registered with the SEC became eligible for the display of real-time quotes, last-sale prices, and volume information on the OTCBB.

On January 4, 1999, the SEC approved the OTCBB Eligibility Rule. Securities not quoted on the OTCBB as of that date will be required to report their current financial information to the SEC, banking, or insurance regulators in order to meet eligibility requirements. Non-reporting companies whose securities were already quoted on the OTCBB will be granted a grace period to comply with the new requirements. Those companies will be phased in beginning in July 1999 and by June 2000, current financial information about all domestic companies that are quoted on the OTCBB will be publicly available.

  • provides access to more than 3,300 securities;
  • includes more than 230 participating Market Makers;
  • electronically transmits real-time quote, price, and volume information in domestic securities, foreign securities and ADRs; and
  • displays indications of interest and prior-day trading activity in DPPs.

Reporting Requirements

Market Makers
As of October 27, 2008, trades in all OTC equity securities (domestic securities, foreign securities and ADRs) must be reported within 90 seconds through the OTC Reporting Facility (ORF). Please refer to FINRA Regulatory Notice 08-51 http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Notices/2008/P117110 and Rule 6620 for a detailed explanation of the requirements for reporting OTC equity trades.

NASDAQ has no business relationship with the issuers quoted in the OTC Bulletin Board. These companies do not have any filing or reporting requirements with The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc., or FINRA. However, issuers of all securities quoted on the OTCBB are subject to periodic filing requirements with the SEC or other regulatory authority.

Issuer Information

Only Market Makers can apply to quote securities on this service.  Issuers may contact an authorized OTCBB Market Maker for sponsorship of a security on the OTCBB.  The OTCBB does not charge issuers a fee for being quoted on the service.  FINRA Rules prohibit Market Makers from accepting any remuneration in return for quoting issuers' securities on the OTCBB or any similar medium.

Market Data Dissemination

The following OTCBB data is disseminated through market data vendor terminals and Web sites for display to customers worldwide:

  • dynamic last-sale and volume information for domestic securities, foreign securities and ADRs;
  • end-of-day high, low, close, and volume on DPPs;
  • bids, offers, and indications of interest displayed by specific Market Makers;
  • inside quotes for domestic securities, foreign securities and ADRs when available;
  • indicative quotes for DPPs; and
  • Market Makers' telephone numbers.

In addition, all NASDAQ Workstation subscribers (order-entry firms and Market Makers) may view all OTC Bulletin Board information on their workstations without incurring additional charges.

Reporting Requirements
Issuer Information
Market Data Dissemination

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