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What is commercial paper: Your comprehensive handbook 

Commercial paper, which is also called CP, is a short-term financial instrument adopted by commercial and financial institutions to raise the funds needed for their needs. With well-maintained credit quality and ease of trading, commercial paper is a simple instrument for business to raise funds and for investors to park their money for a short timeframe. 

In this article, we will cover what is commercial paper in detail. 

What is commercial paper?

As mentioned, a commercial paper allows companies to raise funds for a short period. Think of it as a promissory note: companies sell CPs to investors, making a promise to repay the loan within a short period of time, which normally ranges from a few days to a maximum of 270 days. 

This offers investors a chance to get a return on their investment for lending funds. The Commercial Paper market is an integral part of the overall financial market in which corporations can raise short-term funds at a relatively low cost and with ease. This runs through both primary and secondary markets, providing the public with the ability to invest in commercial paper issuance and trading.

The commercial paper market has many parties. Commercial paper issued by corporations, financial institutions and investors. Issuers identifying their short-term funding sources through the market while investors see the investments on the commercial paper as an opportunity to earn from their borrowed money are the parties that actively participate in the commercial paper structure.

An example of commercial paper is from the State Bank of India which has issued a commercial paper with 180 days maturity and 5.85% interest rate. The credit quality is AA+. 

Features of commercial paper

Here are some of the features of commercial paper. 

Short-term nature

The maturity of commercial paper is basically short-term, in the range of a few days up to 270 days. Having a short tenor makes it an appropriate tool to be utilized by companies which have immediate funding needs.

Maturity period

Commercial paper differs in its maturity periods, providing suitable flexibility for both issuing institutions and investors. This function precedes that companies actually obtain the needed amount of leverage.

Liquid asset

The trading of commercial paper on the secondary market before its maturity date offers liquidity. 


The purpose of commercial paper is generally that it is provided in big denominations and usually would start from multiples of Rs 5 lakh. 

Issuers and investors

Corporations and financial institutions whose major area of interest is making short-term financing accessible for their operation uses are the main issuers of commercial paper. As opposed to investors such as commercial banks, mutual funds, and individuals seeking short-term money market investments, they invest in the commercial paper market.

High credit quality

Commercial paper typically has a high credit rate. That is, issuers are the organizations that have a market presence and strong credit ratings. 

Common uses of commercial paper

  1. Financing working capital needs: The use of commercial paper facilitates the provision of credit terms to commercial firms that help them to finance their day-to-day operations which includes buying stock, salary payment and payment of creditors.
  2. Managing short-term liabilities: In this way, companies may employ commercial paper in order to cover short-term financial responsibilities, like repayments of debts and limited cash flow shortages.
  3. Funding capital expenditures: Apart from that, businesses might use commercial paper to support short-term financing of their capital investments such as tools purchases and more.
  4. Bridge financing: Commercial paper can serve as a bridge financing mechanism for companies that are in shortage of cash from long-term financing or asset sales and hence, help them sort it out in the short run.


Commercial paper offers corporations short-term financing solutions and provides investors with opportunities for modest returns. With its simplicity, liquidity, and high credit quality, commercial paper serves as a reliable investment avenue for simple investors seeking short-term gains. By understanding its features, market dynamics, and common uses, investors can confidently navigate the commercial paper market.

Explore  StockGro to understand such investment options in detail.


What is the typical maturity period for commercial paper?

Commercial paper usually ranges from a few days to up to 270 days, providing short-term financing solutions for corporations and institutions.

How is commercial paper different from traditional bank loans?

Unlike traditional bank loans, commercial paper does not require collateral and offers flexibility in terms of maturity periods and denominations.

What factors determine the credit quality of commercial paper?

The credit quality of commercial paper is determined by the credit rating of the issuer, with higher-rated issuers considered less risky. Additionally, factors such as financial stability, market reputation, and industry performance influence credit quality.

Can individual investors participate in the commercial paper market?

 Yes, individual investors can participate in the commercial paper market indirectly through mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in commercial paper securities.

How does the secondary market for commercial paper operate?

The secondary market for commercial paper allows investors to buy and sell previously issued commercial paper before its maturity date. This market provides liquidity and flexibility for investors to manage their investment portfolios.

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