What Is Continuous Net Settlement (CNS)?

What Is Continuous Net Settlement (CNS)?

3 Min.

The National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) uses Continuous Net Settlement (CNS) for clearing and settlement of securities transactions. CNS reduces the exchange of securities between counterparties, netting NSCC member positions into a single long and short position daily. NSCC is the counterparty for members each day, eliminating counterparty risk.


Utilized by the National Securities Clearing Corporation, Continuous Net Settlement (CNS) stands as a procedural method for settling securities transactions. Within CNS, an integrated book-entry accounting system orchestrates the systematic management of securities and monetary balances, enhancing the overall efficiency and organization of flows.

Continuous Net Settlement (CNS) Explained 

The CNS methodology involves the creation of comprehensive reports to record the shifts in both monetary and securities holdings. This framework efficiently manages most inter-broker transactions within the US, encompassing equities, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, American depositary receipts (ADRs), exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and unit investment trusts. Notably, the NSCC operates as a part of the Depository Trust Clearing Corporation (DTCC).

Benefits of Continuous Net Settlement

The prime asset of CNS lies in its streamlined securities exchange between counterparties. NSCC consolidates member positions into solitary long and short positions at the day's close. Amidst the customary trading day, major financial institutions and clients frequently engage in alternating long and short positions on stocks and ETFs. Many such trades negate each other, though they yield a substantial trade volume among individual shareholders.

Within the CNS process, NSCC assumes the role of counterparty to members, erasing counterparty risk. If any issue arises for an NSCC member during trading hours, the organization shoulders the responsibility of fulfilling the member's commitments. The year 2021 recorded over 3,480 NSCC member entries, with a significant number belonging to divisions within a singular company. Functioning as an impartial mediator, the NSCC steers brokerages in the continuous net settlement procedure.

The CNS workflow empowers NSCC to curtail daily payment value exchanges by an average of 98%. Furthermore, it's crucial to note that NSCC typically affects trade clearance and settlement on a T+2 basis.

Continuous Net Settlement Example

Consider holding a brokerage account with Fidelity and procuring 100 Apple (AAPL) shares. Prompt execution of your order will grant ownership of the shares in your account. Should Fidelity encounter a higher influx of Apple stock buyers than sellers, the necessary shares will be sourced externally. Rather than another brokerage, NSCC becomes Fidelity's counterpart in this scenario. Conversely, if Fidelity faces more clients selling Apple shares, they'll engage in transactions with the NSCC. Interactions between Fidelity and the NSCC will recur, with most transactions offsetting each other eventually. Day's end will find Fidelity holding a single long and short position for Apple stock within the CNS framework.


Continuous Net Settlement exemplifies the NSCC's advanced method for safe securities transactions. CNS minimizes exchanges between parties, streamlining NSCC member positions daily. The process eliminates counterparty risk and saw over 3,480 member entries in 2021. With meticulous orchestration, CNS significantly reduces daily payment exchanges, enhancing efficiency and security in securities trading and settlement.

Continuous Net Settlement (CNS)
National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC)
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