Multilateral trading facilities (MTFs) offer traders and investment firms an alternative to traditional exchanges. They allow trading of a wider variety of markets than most exchanges, including assets that may not have an official market.
Often, MTFs take the form of electronic systems. These are controlled by an approved operator, or sometimes an investment bank. Like an exchange, software is used to match buyers with sellers as quickly as possible.
MTFs arose after the European Union directive regulating non-exchange financial trading. In the US, their equivalents are known as alternative trading systems.