Money Market vs Derivatives Market: What's the Difference?

Investment Banker

The financial market is a complex system consisting of various markets, each with its unique characteristics and purpose. It can be broadly classified into two types - the money market and the derivatives market

While both of these markets deal with financial instruments, they are fundamentally different from each other in terms of the type of instruments traded, the purpose, and the risk involved. 

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The money market is an important source of funding for financial institutions and governments, while the derivatives market provides a way for investors to transfer risks, which helps to stabilise financial markets and promote economic growth. Understanding the differences between these two markets is essential for investors to make informed decisions and manage their risk effectively.

Money market

The money market is a segment of the financial market that deals with short-term borrowing and lending of funds. 

The instruments traded in the money market are short-term debt securities, such as treasury bills, commercial papers, and certificates of deposit, with maturities ranging from 15 days to 1 year.

The primary participants in this market are corporations, governments, and banks, which use the money market to manage their short-term funding needs and cash balances. 

Derivatives market

The derivatives market deals with financial instruments that derive their value from an underlying asset. The underlying asset can be anything from commodities, stocks and currencies to interest rates or even bonds.

Notably, derivatives are financial contracts that allow the transfer of risk from one party to another without actually transferring the underlying asset. Examples of derivatives include forwards, futures and options.

Participants in this market include hedge funds, individual traders, institutional investors, and banks.

This funding is essential for the smooth functioning of the financial system, as it allows financial institutions to meet their daily liquidity needs. Similarly, the derivatives market provides a platform for the transfer of financial risks, which helps to reduce overall financial risk in the system.

Difference between money market and derivatives market

Both the markets play a crucial role in the functioning of the overall financial system. But, the key differences between the money market and the derivatives market are:

  • Risk involved 

The money market is considered a low-risk investment as the instruments traded are short-term and issued by highly creditworthy entities.

 The derivatives market is considered high-risk as the value of the derivative contract is dependent on the underlying asset, which can be subjected to fluctuations in price. Additionally, derivatives can be leveraged, meaning that a small investment can result in either a large return or a significant loss. 

  • Purpose of the investment

In the money market, the primary goal is to provide a platform for companies and governments to borrow or lend funds for short periods, allowing them to manage their cash flows in order to meet their short-term funding needs and provide individuals with low-risk investment opportunities.  

 In the derivatives market, the goal is to provide a way for investors and traders to hedge against potential losses or speculate on an underlying asset's future price movements. 

  • Type of instruments traded

 The type of instruments traded is also different in these two markets. 

The money market deals with short-term debt securities, such as treasury bills, commercial papers, and certificates of deposit.

The derivatives market deals with financial contracts that derive value from an underlying asset. This means that the value of the instruments traded in the derivatives market can be more volatile and subject to fluctuations in the underlying asset.

 It is worth mentioning that the derivatives market is regulated differently from the money market.

Despite their differences, the money market and derivatives market share some commonalities. Both the markets are essential components of the global financial system and provide opportunities for investors to manage their risks and earn returns on their investments.

Additionally, both the markets are highly regulated to ensure transparency and protect investors.


Having a detailed knowledge of the two markets and their fundamental differences, risks, advantages, and disadvantages is a prerequisite for those interested in investment banking. Imarticus' Certified Investment Banking Operations Profession (CIBOP) course is an excellent option if you are seeking a career as an investment banker

This course covers advanced topics in investment banking and is suitable for anyone wanting a push in their banking career. In addition to covering the subject of anti-money laundering, this certification will equip you with an understanding of financial analysis technologies. Enrol in this course today and get placed in well-reputed corporations with a lucrative investment banker salary.

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