Some binary options are listed on registered exchanges or traded on a designated contract market that are subject to oversight by United States regulators such as the CFTC or SEC, respectively, but this is only a portion of the binary options market. Much of the binary options market operates through Internet- based trading platforms that are not necessarily complying with applicable U.S. regulatory requirements. The number of Internet-based trading platforms that offer the opportunity to purchase and trade binary options has surged in recent years. The increase in the number of these platforms has resulted in an increase in the number of complaints about fraudulent promotion schemes involving binary options trading platforms.
A binary option is a financial exotic option in which the payoff is either some fixed monetary amount or nothing at all. The two main types of binary options are the cash-or-nothing binary option and the asset-or-nothing binary option. The former pays some fixed amount of cash if the option expires in-the-money while the latter pays the value of the underlying security. They are also called all-or-nothing options, digital options (more common in forex/interest rate markets), and fixed return options (FROs) (on the American Stock Exchange).