A global portal site on the internet to encourage the development of the $10 billion alternative risk transfer (ART) and weather trading market has been launched in Bermuda. A report from Alison Craig.

World-wide Intellectual Resources Exchange (WIRE), a UK based organisation specialising in applications of the internet to risk related professions and capital markets launched the web portal site, called www.artemis.bm, to a large audience at the Southampton Princess, Bermuda on 12 May 1999.Rowan Douglas, managing director of WIRE, says: “The initial emphasis of Artemis is liquidity of information and communication between the wide range of people touching this market. We have the technology to make this into a trading site if people want us to, but we feel it is much too early for that. Trading will only happen once this opaqueness is removed”

To enhance liquidity, Artemis is free to access, supported by sponsorship and advertising from many of the markets leading names who believe that there are advantages to an internet based ART hub administered by a trusted third party. WIRE launched a similar portal, rsx.co.uk for the traditional market in April, which it says was used by over 1,000 organisations in the first month.

Artemis is a global portal and Bermuda seemed to WIRE to be the natural place to locate it, though much of the day-to-day administration will be undertaken at the organisation's offices in London and Brighton, UK.

The site is very rich in information and links. There is an ART directory listing details of transactions, which contains the lastest Sorema and Tokyo Disneyland deals, a useful glossary of terms and ART news and a news archive going back to 1996 - which in future could prove an interesting way to trace the development of securitisation and other derivatives - and a weather derivatives section.

Mr Douglas has been delighted with the response so far: “The speed, scale and quality of support has been beyond our wildest expectations,” he says.One reaction came from Mark Rayner, underwriter at DP Mann at Lloyd's who said: “. . . Artemis has all the essential components gathered in one place, speeding up the transfer of information which in turn will lead to new ideas, and will help to break down some of the jargon used in both the financial and insurance arenas.”

Says Mr Douglas: “ART is the area where insurers start feeling sexy and bankers start feeling nervous. For too long the market has been shrouded in mystery for those outside a select group, and it lacked a place where everything and everyone ART was brought together. Now, via the internet, risk managers, chief financial officers and traders can enjoy much greater transparency to understand how ART techniques can be used and who is out there to help them.“With Artemis, someone who only had a vague idea of ART can come in, learn about it, gain confidence and then contact companies and individual that can help them. Only in this way will ART escape its ivory towers and enter the commercial mainstream.”

Alison Craig is an insurance journalist.