Dabba Trading


    In News

    • Recently, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a string of notices naming entities involved in ‘dabba trading’

    More about the news

    • NSE cautioned retail investors to not subscribe (or invest) using any of these products offering indicative/assured/guaranteed returns in the stock market as they are prohibited by law
    • NSE also added that the entities are not recognised as authorised members by the exchange.

    What is ‘Dabba Trading’?

    • Meaning:
      • Dabba (box) trading refers to informal trading that takes place outside the purview of the stock exchanges. 
        • Traders bet on stock price movements without incurring a real transaction to take physical ownership of a particular stock as is done in an exchange. 
      • In simple words, it is gambling centered around stock price movements.
    • For example, 
      • An investor places a bet on a stock at a price point, say ?1,000. If the price point rose to ?1,500, he/she would make a gain of ?500. 
      • However, if the price point falls to ?900, the investor would have to pay the difference to the dabba broker
      • Thus, it could be concluded that the broker’s profit equates to the investor’s loss and vice-versa
      • The equations are particularly consequential during bull runs or bear markets.
    • How?
      • The primary purpose of such trades is to stay outside the purview of the regulatory mechanism, and thus, transactions are facilitated using cash and the mechanism is operated using unrecognised software terminals
      • Other than this, it could also be facilitated using informal or kaccha (rough) records, sauda (transaction) books, challans, DD receipts, cash receipts alongside bills/contract notes as proof of trading.
    • Luring the investors:
      • Despite the risk involved, dabba trading can be profitable since it is not governed by any rules and regulations.
      • What lures potential investors is the aggressive marketing of brokers, ease of trading (using apps with quality interface) and lack of identity verifications
      • Depending on the individual’s trading profile, observable volumes and trends, brokers keep their fees and margins open to negotiation as well.

    • Legal status:
      • ‘Dabba trading’ is recognised as an offence under Section 23(1) of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act (SCRA), 1956 and upon conviction, can invite imprisonment for a term extending up to 10 years or a fine up to ?25 crore, or both.


    • Loss of government exchequer:
      • Since there are no proper records of income or gain, it helps dabba traders escape taxation. 
      • They would not have to pay the Commodity Transaction Tax (CTT) or the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) on their transactions. 
      • The use of cash also means that they are outside the purview of the formal banking system. All of it combined results in a loss to the government exchequer.  
    • No investor protection:
      • In ‘dabba trading’, the primary risk entails the possibility that the broker defaults in paying the investor or the entity becomes insolvent or bankrupt
      • Being outside the regulatory purview implies that investors are without formal provisions for investor protection, dispute resolution mechanisms and grievance redressal mechanisms that are available within an exchange.
    • Harassment of clients:
      • It is also noticed that clients, on entering the dabba ecosystem, were harassed by the broker’s ‘recovery agents’ for default payments and refused payments upon profit.
    • Black money & money laundering:
      • Since all activities are facilitated using cash, and without any auditable records, it could potentially encourage the growth of ‘black money’ alongside perpetuating a parallel economy. 
      • This could potentially translate to risks entailing money laundering and criminal activities.
    • Loss & volatility:
      • The source warns that the mechanism could potentially translate into ripple effects for the regulated bourse as well by inducing volatility when dabba brokers look to hedge their exposures (take position in an alternate asset or investment to reduce the risk/loss with the current position). 
      • It also contributes to the bourse losing out on volumes, “even though they may not be significant”.

    Stock Market Trading

    • Stock market trading is the process of buying and selling shares in a particular company.
      • If you own certain stocks and shares of a company, it translates to you owning a piece of the firm.
    • The first exchange for online trading in India and Asia was the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) which was established in 1875
    • BSE, along with the National Stock Exchange in India, are the two main houses where stock market trading takes place. 

    National Stock Exchange (NSE)

    • About:
      • National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is one of the leading stock exchanges in India, based in Mumbai
      • NSE is under the ownership of various financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.
      • It is the world’s largest derivatives exchange by number of contracts traded and the third largest in cash equities by number of trades for the calendar year 2022.
    • NIFTY 50:
      • NSE’s flagship index, the NIFTY 50, a 50 stock index is used extensively by investors in India
    • Systemically important MII:
      • Recently, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) noted that the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was a systemically important market infrastructure institution (MII).

    Source: TH