Facebook is coming for people's banking information next, a report claims. Facebook already knows a ton of data about its users anyway, so why not let them acquire financial transaction data as well?
According to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, the social network has apparently spent the last year courting banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and U.S. Bancorp for potential partnerships that would require users to provide their financial data.
Facebook And Banking Services
According to TechCrunch, however, the Wall Street Journal's report blew things a bit out of proportion. Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana said that the company doesn't intend to ask for credit card transaction data from banks, and it's not interested in building a dedicated banking feature where people would be able to interact with their bank accounts.
Diana also said Facebook's potential partnerships with banks won't be used to gather data for ad targeting, or even personalize content such as which products in the Marketplace a user sees based on what they've purchased elsewhere.
Rather, Facebook wants to establish a deeper integration between accounts and their banks via Messenger. It already does this to an extent, actually: Facebook lets Citibank users in Singapore connect their accounts so they can notify their bank's Messenger chatbot to check their balance, report fraud, or request customer service. That chatbot integration was announced last year and rolled out this past March. Facebook also works with PayPal in over 40 countries to let users get receipts for their purchases via Messenger.
Facebook's expanded partnerships with banking institutions could give its Messenger platform an edge over rival messaging options by making it more convenient for users to check the status of their accounts right within the app, but Facebook doesn't intend to leverage that data for ad targeting — not right now, at least.
"A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data — this is not true." said Diana. "The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone — and it's completely opt-in."
Diana also said that banks and credit card companies themselves have approached Facebook for partnerships, and not just the other way around, as the Wall Street Journal report implies. Any features rolled out as the result of those discussions would be opt-in, according to Diana. Activating them also involves sophisticated security methods, such as two-factor authentication.
Facebook And Data Privacy
To be fair, though, the panic over Facebook's handling of data privacy isn't groundless. Users have become far more wary of what Facebook does with their data, considering its very recent security blunders, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Russian troll farms infiltrating news feeds to spread misinformation. As such, users are rightly reluctant whenever Facebook is reportedly doing anything with user data.
Will you trust Facebook with your banking activities? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!