Options Clearing Corporation

The Options Clearing Corporation, commonly known by the abbreviation OCC, was established in 1973 to provide a secure and stable foundation for the blossoming trade in stock and other options as well as other financial derivatives such as commodity options, commodity futures and security futures. As indicated by its name, the OCC acts as a clearinghouse and a guarantor for these types of transactions, ensuring that the obligations assumed by participants in options and futures contracts are fulfilled and resolved.

The OCC is not a “corporation” in the standard frame of reference; in fact it is a registered Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO) with a board of directors that oversees and directs its day-to-day functions. The OCC operates under the jurisdiction of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In this respect, the OCC acts as a quasi-governmental regulatory agency. At the same time, the OCC acts as an industry utility by collecting revenue from its members that is derived from fees charged on clearing transactions. This facet of the OCC’s operations is indeed more corporate in nature.

Some of the member firms that participate in the OCC and draw upon its services include the American Stock Exchange, the Boston Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The OCC has solid Chicago connections, clearing CBOE Futures Exchange commodity contracts and security futures contracts transacted at OneChicago. Through their clearing members, the OCC interacts with more than 100 major American broker/dealers, futures commission merchants and international financial securities firms. Without a clearing firm like the Options Clearing Corporation, it’s doubtful the options and futures markets could function reliably. The OCC has grown over the past 33+ years to become the world’s largest financial equities clearinghouse and it can rightly claim credit for the current robust state of global options and futures markets.

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