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November 2, 1999

Dun & Bradstreet, Verisign Partner for Secure E-Commerce

By CBR Staff Writer

Dun & Bradstreet Corp has set up a new company and partnered with digital certificate supplier Verisign Inc to provide what the two claim is the first secure business to business transaction and validation environment. Under the partnership, Verisign has embedded D&B’s DUN’s number – which provides access to data on over 57 million businesses worldwide – into its digital certificate product. The idea is to enable companies conducting business over the net to gain real-time access to each others’ business credentials, financial status, partners and so on.

The certificates will be sold both by Verisign, which will offer the integration as an option, and by D&B’s new spin-off as well as both companies’ indirect sales channels and partners. Buyers or sellers that purchase certificates will be issued with a D&B number, a unique number that only refers to that company. The service will be sold to corporations that sell their products over the web or to companies that host marketplaces, like an on-line auction house for example, which will in turn market and sell the certificates to businesses within their marketplace.

Andre Dahan, president of both D&B’s North American operations and head of said the aim was to overcome the friction prevalent in the business to business e-commerce world at the moment. Rather than blindly conducting business with buyers or sellers over the internet, having the Dunn’s number integrated with Verisign’s digital certificates will let companies carry out an automatic check of that certificate’s validity as well as dial into D&B’s database and access information about that company, its credit rating, partners, suppliers, number of employees and so on, all in real time.

Access to D&B’s database will be provided via’s new information broker which sits on the vendor or marketplace host’s server and provides a dial-up connection to the data. Dahan said the revenue model will be based around a one-off fee for use of the certificates as well as ongoing transaction charges for access to D&B’s database. The revenue will either be collected by D&B directly, in the case of D&B licensing the software directly to an on-line vendor or by the host of the marketplace who will then pass on a percentage of the charges to D&B. Transaction charges will vary according to the volume of certificates and the amount of access to D&B data. Customers can opt to be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, whereby they only pay as and when they download D&B data or on a fixed cost per year per access basis.

Dahan said D&B and Verisign were currently both conducting trials of the new service with partners. D&B hopes to have three pilot schemes up and running by the end of the year, one of which Dahan described as very significant.

Meantime, Verisign is working with companies that host marketplaces in vertical markets including the chemical industry, pulp and paper, building supplies and retail. The aim, said Dahan, is to create the standard instrument for transactions. He said D&B had decided to offer the service through a new start up because it realized the need to operate at the speed of the internet. That said, most of’s 12 employees are existing D&B staff and it will be D&B’s 700 US-based sales and marketing people that initially push the offering, although Dahan added that other selling channels were currently being put in place. The service will be offered in North America only at first and then extended worldwide over time, Dahan said, adding that D&B was in the process of negotiating partnerships in both Europe and Japan.

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