Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Facebook Offers Banks Its Users for Their Data

Facebook Offers Banks Its Users for Their Data

One bank has reportedly pulled out of discussions with Facebook because of the issue.

The Wall Street Journal revealed that the social network has been asking major banks to "share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users".

In effect, these deals would give Messenger the ability to alert customers to fraudulent activity on their accounts or allow them to check their balances.

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After all, if a financial institution shares data that is later exposed in a breach, the bank may share the blame in the eyes of regulators. I reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this post if I hear back.

Citing "people familiar with the matter", the Journal reported that over the past year Facebook has sought out JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp "to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger".

Facebook acknowledged last month that it was facing multiple inquiries from United States and British regulators about a scandal involving the now bankrupt British consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

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But Facebook is still dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which generated a lot of distrust in how the company manages its users' data. The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone - and it's completely opt-in. The investment company's spokesperson Trish Wexler said the firm had refused to share "our customers' off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and had to say no to some things as a result".

"Account linking enables people to receive real-time updates in Facebook Messenger where people can keep track of their transaction data like account balances, receipts, and shipping updates", Facebook said Monday in a statement. Wells Fargo is "not actively engaging in data-sharing conversations with Facebook", spokeswoman Hilary O'Byrne said in an emailed statement.

The dust surrounding the Cambridge Analytica data privacy incident still hasn't fully settled, but Facebook is already looking for additional ways to get its hands on user data.

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