Dun & Bradstreet Delivers Complex Company Ownership Checks in Milliseconds vs. Days

As international transparency regulations evolve, organizations around the world grapple with compliance demands to investigate past company ownership tied to individuals. These regulations aim to combat money laundering and other crimes by pinpointing the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO), the natural person(s) ultimately controlling a business through direct or indirect shareholding or acting as trustees. 

Performing these ownership checks is time-intensive, requiring trained staff and posing scalability challenges. Each query might tie up key people for 10-15 days. Delays in completing checks also hinder new sales registrations, impacting revenue streams.

Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), a world-leading technology and data group, recognized this research strain on skilled teams and embarked on offering an accelerated compliance service. The goal: empower organizations to swiftly and accurately complete customer checks. But first, it needed to find the right way to power this new solution.

Providing Breakthrough Speed with Graph and Cloud

Traditional approaches to data management simply couldn’t map all of the complex data relationships involved in company ownership or maintain a rapid speed of response. The challenge was compounded by inconsistent data sources, such as discrepancies between share ownership and local registry records. Understanding the beneficiaries, controllers, and principles of a business was increasingly complex without robust data governance, analytics, and disciplined update controls. “Companies struggled to make sense of the information they were seeing,” explains Moheesh Raj, a senior engineering manager at D&B. 

Dun & Bradstreet was already aware of the potential of graph data management, which makes it possible to analyze the complex web of relationships among billions of data points across multiple sources. Graph technology also allows users to break a single question into multiple sub-questions across multiple documents and sources, eliminating the slow, expensive join operations required for relational databases. Users would understand relationships between data to interpret corporate structures and any dilution of business ownership.

Neo4j stood out from the start based on its track record and collaborative approach to creating a targeted solution. “During all our initial PoC’s, Neo4j stood out from its competitors by providing solutions for all our use cases and delivering them at such a great speed. It was a no-brainer to proceed with Neo4j,” says Raj. Both organizations worked together to build the graphs and a working API within three months that would collate and send the data to the client.

Neo4j’s performance superiority also outshone other providers, enabling quick analysis of complex shareholder interests globally in milliseconds, a task that would have otherwise taken hours of manual research. With Neo4j’s full graph stack, clients can accelerate compliance revenue generation without delay. 

Dun & Bradstreet chose to implement Neo4j graph technology in a fully managed Neo4j Aura solution with automated service operations such as setup, configuration, provisioning, storage, and network setup. “D&B’s data artery, our data supply chain, is now re-architected into the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The UBO running on Neo4j is an integral part of this supply chain. Since it vends data directly to the products that feed the customers, Neo4j’s fitment into GCP is all the more crucial for D&B’s success,” Raj says.

Today, UBO is the first application in D&B to fully utilize Neo4j’s Aura capabilities. By migrating to Aura, all service operations such as setup, configuration, provisioning, storage, and network setups are fully automated within the service. “What used to take days we can now do in milliseconds,” Raj says.

Neo4j Graph Technology Provides a Single Source of Truth for Due Diligence

Neo4j now powers D&B’s compliance service, serving as the centralized repository for global ownership data. This service spans over 200 countries, encompassing:

  • 339 million shareholders
  • 390 million principals
  • 621 million individual role players
  • 300 million resolved individuals 
  • 12-13 million updates every day
  • 19 million public sector companies (PSCs)
  • 3.6 million government entities and state-owned enterprises
  • 1,651,368,113 data nodes 
  • 1,476,825,846 relationships
  • DUNS – 525,826,721

DUNS refers to the number of global businesses registered with D&B, whose data is present in the D&B system. By contrast, individuals refers to people not considered DUNS, with assurance that they are not duplicates of any other individuals who share the same name and credentials.

Accelerating Business Growth and Innovation

Dun & Bradstreet launched its new compliance service in January 2017 after starting its graph project less than four months earlier, in September 2016. It quickly achieved healthy, profitable revenue that easily justified the initial build cost. The subsequent year saw significant double-digit growth in customers and dispathed graphs, an upward trend that has continued ever since. 

Having seen the success of its Neo4j compliance service, D&B is now exploring opportunities for graph technology across its operations, including bolstering fraud detection by spotting patterns and subtle inter-relationships across seemingly unrelated data points. As artificial intelligence/machine learning opens new avenues for innovation, the company’s unequaled data resources, combined with its Neo4j graph capabilities, form a robust foundation for partnerships with financial and regulatory technology startups.

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