Marketplaces make the city of London a global hub.
Lloyds of London.
Modern insurance was invented in the coffee shops of the city of London in the 17th century. Ship owners and traders from around the growing British empire would congregate in coffee shops such as that of Mr. Lloyd on Lombard street. If you had a ship returning from India and your fellow ship owners might have had one returning from Jamaica or New England, it made a lot of commercial sense to diversify your risk. You might take a 10% share of the risk in case of a number of other boats did not return, and at the same time others would cover the risk of your boat not returning.
The risk of a certain cargo was taken on by a collection of individuals. They would sign their name underneath the details of the shipment and insurance contract. Hence the word Underwriter.
This is how modern insurance started, and by the early 1700’s Lloyds had become an established marketplace for global insurance.
The importance of a centralised marketplace cannot be under estimated. Competing underwriters and brokers mean that transparency and efficiency prevail, whatever the product being transacted.
The internet is enabling a much more diverse marketplaces to develop. Maybe one day there will be an internet equivalent of Lloyd’s of London, which individual consumers can access!