Future and Margin Trading in India: Meaning and Difference

Futures trading and margin trading are buzzwords in the Indian financial landscape. These two forms of leveraged trading offer potential for substantial gains, but they come with their fair share of risks. In this article, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of futures trading and margin trading in India, highlighting their key differences and the critical factors investors should consider before diving into these exciting yet complex markets.

Futures Trading in India

Futures trading in India is a financial arrangement where investors buy or sell contracts obligating them to exchange an underlying asset at a predetermined price and date in the future. These underlying assets can range from stocks, indices, commodities, to currencies. Notably, futures contracts are standardized and traded on reputable exchanges like the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX).

The Role of Margin

One of the key features of futures trading is the use of margin. Investors can initiate trades by paying only a fraction of the contract’s actual value upfront. This fraction is known as the margin. Each exchange sets the margin requirement, which can vary between different contracts. Importantly, investors must maintain a minimum margin balance in their trading account throughout the contract’s duration. If the margin falls below this level due to adverse price movements, investors will receive a margin call, requiring them to deposit additional funds or close their position.

Flexibility and Settlement

Futures contracts offer investors the flexibility to take bullish or bearish positions on the underlying asset without needing to own it. Furthermore, investors can square off their positions before or on the contract’s expiry date. In India, most futures contracts are cash-settled, with physical delivery being the exception, mainly in the commodity futures market.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Future Trading

Futures trading in India presents numerous advantages, such as the ability to leverage capital for potentially higher returns, hedging against price fluctuations, and diversifying portfolios. However, it also comes with the risk of unlimited losses, interest payments on borrowed funds, and the need for constant market monitoring and margin adjustments.

Margin Trading in India

Margin trading, on the other hand, involves buying securities on credit by borrowing money from a broker. The securities purchased serve as collateral for the borrowed amount. Margin trading in India is limited to securities defined by SEBI and the stock exchange.

The Role of Margin Requirement

In margin trading, investors can buy securities worth more than the funds available in their account, paying only a percentage of the total amount upfront as margin. This margin requirement is set by the broker. However, investors must pay interest on the borrowed amount for as long as the loan remains outstanding.

Strict Time Frame

Margin trading imposes a time limit, typically 90 days, within which investors must square off their positions. Failure to do so may lead to the broker selling their securities, often referred to as “squaring-off,” to recover potential losses.

Pros and Cons of Margin Trading

Margin trading can increase an investor’s buying power, allowing them to capitalize on short-term market opportunities, use it as a hedging tool, and benefit from price appreciation. Nevertheless, it also entails significant risks, including potential losses, interest payments, and the risk of margin calls and forced liquidation.

Differences Between Futures and Margin Trading in India

Now, let’s summarize the key distinctions between futures trading and margin trading in India:

  1. Underlying Assets: Futures trading encompasses various assets, while margin trading is restricted to predefined securities.
  2. Margin Requirement: In futures trading, a fixed margin is a fraction of the contract value, whereas in margin trading, it’s a percentage of the total transaction amount.
  3. Expiry: Futures contracts have fixed expiry dates, whereas margin trading typically involves a 90-day window.
  4. Settlement: Futures contracts can be settled through physical delivery or cash settlement, whereas margin trading is settled exclusively through cash.


Futures trading and margin trading in India offer exciting opportunities to amplify returns and diversify portfolios. However, they demand a deep understanding of the markets and risk management strategies. Prior to engaging in these forms of leveraged trading, thorough research, consultation with financial experts, and strict adherence to SEBI regulations and guidelines are essential for a safe and secure trading experience. Remember, while the rewards can be substantial, the risks are equally significant, making prudent decision-making imperative for success in these markets.

FAQs| Future and Margin Trading

What is margin trading with an example?

Margin trading in India allows investors to trade with borrowed funds, increasing their buying power. For instance, if an investor has ₹10,000 but wants to buy ₹20,000 worth of stock, they can use the margin to borrow the remaining ₹10,000 from a broker. However, they must repay the loan with interest and maintain a minimum margin requirement.

Is margin trading a good idea?

Margin trading can be beneficial for experienced Indian investors with a solid strategy, but it’s not advisable for beginners or risk-averse individuals. While it can boost profits, it also magnifies losses and involves risks, including margin calls and interest costs.

What is futures trading with an example?

Futures trading in India involves contracts obligating parties to exchange assets at a predetermined future date and price. For instance, a farmer in India can use futures to lock in a wheat price, a baker can secure a wheat supply, and a trader can speculate on price changes.

Is futures trading profitable?

Futures trading can be profitable for Indian traders if they accurately predict price movements and manage risks effectively. Leverage and costs impact profitability, making it crucial to have a well-thought-out strategy.

Is futures trading a good career?

Futures trading can be a rewarding career for Indians with strong analytical skills and risk tolerance. However, it’s challenging and demands continuous learning, adaptability, and discipline.


Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks; read all the related documents carefully before investing.