16th January 2024


PlacingHub will see live action in February, says Ebix Europe’s vice-president, Pete Smyth

London market technology specialist completed seven years as architect and provider of the original London market electronic placement platform at the end of 2023

Ebix Europe is all set to redefine the modernisation of the London market with its launch of PlacingHub, a new electronic placing platform that enables brokers and insurers to quote, negotiate, bind and endorse business digitally, according to its vice-president, Pete Smyth.

Following the acquisitions of London-based Acord messaging and trading platform specialists TriSystems and Qatarlyst (formerly RI3K), Ebix Europe was created to design, develop and support a range of insurance software solutions. It designed and powered the technology used by Placing Platform Ltd (PPL) from when this went live in 2016 until the end of last year with the wind-down of PPLv3.

With its new independence, Ebix Europe has this month unveiled Placing­Hub, which Smyth says offers an “unparalleled level of robustness, reliability, user-centric experience and support”. As such, he says PlacingHub is positioned to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of electronic risk placement.

Smyth has been part of the evolution of electronic placement, having joined TriSystems in 1992. In an interview with Insurance Day, he says the first significant milestone in that evolution was the RI3K product used by brokers Aon and BMS with about 100 carriers.

“That ran successfully for a number of years, but they didn’t manage to get more brokers on board, so it was very much an Aon/BMS vehicle,” Smyth says.

It was when Marsh was looking to join Qatarlyst, he says, that PPL was created to provide a platform for the market as a whole. This was around the time Ebix acquired Qatarlyst, which had itself bought Tri­Systems. Ebix proposed a placing platform for PPL based on TriSystems’ Lime Street platform for electronic endorsements, which was used successfully for nearly seven years.

There were classes of business, notably financial lines, that were “quick to adopt” PPL, Smyth says, while some aviation re/insurers initially felt their product was too complex to work on such a platform. “But there is no class of business that failed to use PPL,” he adds.

The Holy Grail in the evolution of electronic placement is to have “one true source of the data at the outset”, Smyth says. “Where we’ve got so far is to electronically reproduce the traditional way of placing transactions, but I think where we’re going next is for data to flow through the platform without having to be rekeyed or re-extracted.”

“It’s a dream of many companies to be able to talk electronically through a placing platform from their existing systems. That means using APIs [application programming interfaces] to access all the functionality of a platform without needing to see the screens associated with it, so it comes from the back end of their own systems.”

The first step in that direction will be the ability of brokers to drop their data directly into a placing platform electronically so it is distributed seamlessly across their carriers, Smyth says. The ultimate goal is “headless use” with APIs, but developers are a “few years away” from that.

Ebix Europe has APIs to put data in and take data out of its PlacingHub and has been testing them with some of its partners to create a fully integrated system, Smyth says. The company is also working on a “whole load of additional APIs” to take that process a stage further.

Return on investment

The bottom line in the evolution of electronic placement platforms, though, is the bottom line of the users, Smyth stresses.

“The market has spent an awful lot of money on electronic placement platforms and are saying they want a return on that investment now, to see something tangible for their efforts,” he says.

Ebix Europe has dispensed with fees for licensing or onboarding at PlacingHub and only charges for transactions and at a cost, moreover, that is “the lowest in the market”, Smyth says.

“People will be using PlacingHub because they want to and not because they are tied to us through a licence fee,” he says. It can do this, he adds, because it has the expertise it needs in-house, with no need to employ external resources.

An example of its credentials is the platform Ebix Europe was operating for PPL had no downtime over the final three months of 2023 and less than 0.01% for the whole year.

“Both the hardware and the application performed extremely well and we’re proud of the uptime it achieved,” Smyth says. “The same people designed PlacingHub.”

They have built a new application on Microsoft Azure, in the cloud, meaning the platform will be “even more resilient than it is now”.

Business intelligence

A feature of PlacingHub, which the PPL platform did not have, is an online built-in reporting tool to graphically display customised data insights. This “business intelligence side” of PlacingHub means the platform is as relevant to the C-suite of a company as it is to the operations side, Smyth says.

Ebix Europe plans to launch this quarter the first iteration of the “product and contract builder tool” it has developed as a template for any class of business. On the more distant horizon, Smyth says, is the use of artificial intelligence in the submission phase of Placing­Hub.

The key message Smyth has heard from the market on electronic placement is carriers and brokers “don’t feel wedded to one particular platform”. A lot of companies have used both PPL and the Whitespace platform, with a market split of about 90:10, and “we’ll be looking to take a sizeable part of that”, he says.

Smyth concludes: “We have nearly 90% of the carrier market either contracted or in contract negotiations so far, by volume of their placements on the previous PPL product. We also have a number of brokers signed up already, including from among the top 20 broking firms, so we expect live action on PlacingHub in February.”


This editorial was published in Insuranceday and is shared with the kind permission of the publication. To see the original publication please follow this link: Ebix Europe gears up to increase competition in electronic placement :: Insurance Day


Pete Smyth

Ebix Europe