Regular exchanges get the spotlight for their publicly available high trading volume, in particular through the (in)famous CoinMarketCap ranking, and Futures trading is now trendy, allowing users to play the markets with only USDT in their pocket and large leverage.
However, in term of retail adoption, OTC exchanges are the ones leading the dance. Since a lot of holders come from countries that don’t openly allow buying and selling crypto, don’t allow crypto-exchanges operations, or forbid the use of fiat currency on crytpo platforms, OTC are the only way for people willing to get into crypto.
If you are a Chinese user, you can’t deposit RMB on Kraken, you go OTC. And the market is huge. We look a small list of platforms that provide peer-to-peer OTC functionality. A big difference from regular trading is the ability to choose the trade according to a variety of criteria. Some users find that the payment options is a major reason they choose one platform or the others.
Localbitcoin is an old platform dedicated to OTC Bitcoin trading. It helped many users get into crypto. It is mostly efficient in the US though, and failed to capture users from Asia, mainly for the long time it took to implement a Chinese version. It is also famous for the PayPal scams were users pretended to have been scammed and got charged back, while coins had already been released. It lost a bit of Steam but stays out there as the most famous one.
Huobi is the largest OTC in China. While the number of sellers is not huge, it’s rating and registered seller features (providing automatic sale confirmation for accredited sellers) make it a breeze to buy and sell crypto for Chinese users. Huobi is also close to the Chinese government, and with their own Communist Party Committee inside the company, they are first in line for a crypto license that could be publicly announced soon. While peer to peer trading of crypto is still a grey area in China, Huobi is one of the larger players out there.
Gate.io is another big player, though their OTC desk is quite modest compared to the level of activity they have on their exchange. Mainly the OTC is a starting point to get USDT or BTC that will be used in trading on their platform. However the volume there makes it a good place to get your first coins and start crypto trading.
OtcBtc got popular in 2017 from its Chinese users. Before being blocked in China, which forced Chinese users to turn to using VPN to access it, the volume was quite remarkable. Volume dropped now but it still provides a 7 important pairs that have several reputable sellers, though you’re not likely to find anyone trading in anything but RMB and USD.
Bibo.gold is an exchange registered in Estonia, but that seems to thrive particularly in Asia. While the exchange is modest, the OTC desk is much more interesting, with a nice collection of available pairs. Among others, it features VET, DASH, and BEAM, making it one of the few desks with privacy coins, and some popular options that are usually unavailable somewhere else. Additionally you get an exchange and a real goods marketplace if you feel like shopping.
There are many more OTC websites out there, some with nice volume though aimed at Ethereum only like localethereum.com, Monero, like localMonero, and some regular exchanges with otc desk. Some large OTC players go through private OTC desks like Kraken that provide high volumes, but are not very good for retail investors. The main problem is to find an offer in the payment method you want, which is not as easy as it seems considering the multitude of payment options, none being as perfect as crypto payments themselves.