What Is a Cross Trade? Definition, Guide & 6 Facts

A cross trade is the practice of offsetting a buy-and-sell transaction for an asset without reporting it to the exchange. The majority of exchange systems prohibit cross-trading.

A cross trade can be lawfully completed when a broker matches a purchase and sell order for the same securities on behalf of two distinct customer accounts and then reports them as a “cross transaction” to the appropriate exchange. Read more below:

What Is a Cross Trade?

A cross trade occurs when purchase and sell orders for the same asset are offset without the exchange registering the transaction. It is a prohibited practice on the majority of major exchanges.

What Is a Cross Trade?

When a broker executes matching buy and sell orders for the same securities across several customer accounts and reports them to an exchange, this is a genuine cross trade.

For instance, if one client wants to sell and another wants to buy, the broker could match the orders without sending them to the stock exchange to be filled, instead filling them as a cross trade and reporting the transactions after the fact, but in a timely manner and with the time and price of the cross.

These cross-trades must also be conducted at a price that matches to the current market price.

Important of Cross Trade

Frequently, cross trades are executed for deals involving matching buy and sell orders that are related to a derivatives trade, such as the hedge on a delta-neutral options contract.

What Is a Cross Trade?

How a Cross Trade Works?

Due to the absence of accurate reporting, cross-trades have inherent risks. When the deal is not recorded by the exchange, one or both customers may not get the current market price available to other (non-cross trade) market players.

Due to the fact that orders are never made public, investors may be unaware whether a lower price was available. On big exchanges, cross-trades are often prohibited. All transactions must be logged and orders must be transmitted to the exchange.

However, cross trades are permissible in some circumstances, such as when both the buyer and seller are customers of the same asset management and the price of the cross trade is deemed competitive at the time of the deal.

A portfolio manager can efficiently transfer an item from one customer to another client who desires it, so eliminating the spread on the deal.

What Is a Cross Trade?

For correct regulatory categorization, the broker and management must demonstrate a fair market price for the transaction and record the deal as a cross. The asset management must demonstrate to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that both parties benefited from the transaction.

Concerns About Cross Trades

Although a cross trade does not require each participant to provide a price for the transaction to complete, matching orders occur when a broker gets a buy-and sell-order from two investors stating the same price.

Depending on local restrictions, transactions of this sort may be permitted, given that each investor has indicated interest in concluding a purchase at the set price. This may be especially important for investors selling highly volatile stocks whose value might fluctuate drastically in a short amount of time.

Cross-trades are problematic because they might erode market confidence. Although certain cross-trades are theoretically permissible, other market players were not permitted to deal with such orders. Market players may have want to interact with one of these orders, but were unable to do so since the transaction happened off-exchange.

What Is a Cross Trade?

A further issue is that a sequence of cross transactions might be used to “paint the tape,” a sort of unlawful market manipulation in which market participants seek to manipulate the price of an asset by buying and selling it among themselves to create the appearance of heavy trading activity.

Leverage and Risk in Cross Trading

By utilizing the maximum possible leverage, however, risk is amplified, especially if cash is dispersed across numerous crypto assets, which may exacerbate volatility.

This does not prevent intelligent investors from buying a variety of altcoins (used as margin — commonly referred to as coin-margin in crypto) and then borrowing against their value in BTC, despite the fact that they technically do not own BTC.

What Is a Cross Trade?

Then, these investors might sell the BTC at a profit, allowing them to keep the profit even after returning the value of the BTC they borrowed. However, if profiting off what is essentially air seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. There are risks associated with crypto cross trading.

Cross Trading in Traditional Finance

Cross transactions in the conventional sense (i.e., without the use of crypto tokens) are a very widespread practice among brokerages, however they are only authorized in specific circumstances.

For instance, when a broker matches buy and sell orders for the same asset across many customer accounts and reports them to superiors. If the first customer intends to sell and the second wishes to buy, the broker can match both orders without submitting them to the stock exchange and instead file them as a cross transaction after the fact.

This form of cross-trade must also be conducted at the current market price at the moment the deal is executed.

If this transaction is reported in a timely manner and time-stamped with the time and price of the cross, then this should not appear to be problematic. However, in actuality, this is only partially accurate.

As with bitcoin cross trades, the issue with these forms of cross trading is that they provide greater possibility for error, whether intended or not. In addition, both digital and non-digital financial systems rely on data and the diligence/accuracy of its reporting, this can pose significant logistical challenges for the whole sector.

What Is a Cross Trade?


A cross trade occurs when purchase and sell orders for the same asset are offset without the exchange registering the transaction. This behavior is prohibited on the majority of major exchanges.

A cross trade also happens lawfully when a broker executes and reports matching buy and sell orders for the same security across several customer accounts.

Cross-deals are authorized when brokers transfer customer assets between accounts, when hedging derivatives trades, and when certain block orders are executed.

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