I've seen the two terms used interchangeably. I've also seen ECNs referred to as "markets" but then seen ATSes referred to as "venues". I've seen "regulated markets" considered a subset of "venues", here.

Is there some method to the madness? Or are the terms just inherently vague and how people choose to use market vs. venue is random?

I find the term "venue" to be more broad than "market". I would consider market a subset of venue. Whereas market implies buying/selling/trading, venue only implies a place where "something happens". Are there venues where "something happens" that does not happen on markets?

NOTE: I'm not intentionally trying to ask an open-ended question. I'm looking for a definitive answer for how to use "market" and "venue" correctly, or if "market" and "venue" can be used interchangeably.

  • 1
    “Are there venues where "something happens" that does not happen on markets?” - yes, there are conference venues, entertainment venues, theatre venues, dining venues... or is that not what you meant?
    – Vicky
    Aug 14, 2020 at 18:54
  • @Vicky I guess, are there financial transactions that happen in venues that don't happen in markets? I consider dark pools 'venues' and not 'markets', whereas I consider exchanges both a 'venue' and a 'market'. I can't tell if this is subjectivity on my part or if there is some rule and reason to this distinction I'm making.
    – jed
    Aug 16, 2020 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


I do not believe there is any real distinction between 'market' and 'venue'. It is more likely that these are terms established to avoid terms with specific regulatory meanings, such as 'Exchange', 'ATS' (Alternative Trading System), or 'ECN' (Electronic Communications Network).

For example, NASDAQ was an over-the-counter trading platform that later became a regulated Exchange but is still referred to as the NASDAQ Stock Market ('market'). Venue may also refer to 'dark pools' which are often ATSes while "markets" refer to regulated exchange.

Due to the lack of standardization around terminology, many people use different terms to describe the same things. The only time it matters is when it is a term that is formally defined by the Securities and Exchange commission.


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