Facebook wants your financial data to expand Messenger, says report

The social network has reportedly reached out to several major US banks.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
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Messenger And Facebook : Illustration

Facebook wants banks to share your financial data to expand Messenger, says report.

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Facebook reportedly wants you to check your bank account on its instant message platform, Messenger. 

The social network has asked several US banks to share customers' financial data, including card transactions and checking account balances, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. 

Facebook has reportedly held talks with Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and US Bancorp over the past year to discuss the possibility of new features, such as fraud alerts or showing account balances, it could host on Facebook Messenger. This comes as the social media giant wants to expand its e-commerce footprint, according to the Journal. Facebook launched peer-to-peer payments in Messenger back in 2015 and has been adding payments options ever since, including integration with PayPal.

One large bank has reportedly pulled away from the discussion due to privacy concerns.

Facebook has been under fire for several scandals involving data privacy, starting with Cambridge Analytica. In an effort to better protect user data, the company earlier in March said it ended "Partner Categories," which let advertisers use information from third-party data providers such as Experian and Oracle Data Cloud.

"Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email statement. "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."

"The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone - and it's completely opt-in," she added. "We're not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences – not for advertising or anything else."

Chase isn't "sharing our customers' off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result," said JPMorgan Chase's spokeswoman Patricia Wexler, referring CNET to her statement to the Journal.

"We haven't shared any customer information or data to Facebook or any other technology platform," said Dana Ripley, chief communications officer at US Bancorp, in an email statement.

"While we regularly have conversations about potential partnerships, safeguarding the security and privacy of our customers' data and providing customer choice are paramount in everything we do," Citigroup spokeswoman Elizabeth Fogarty said in an email statement.

"Maintaining the privacy of customer data is of paramount importance to Wells Fargo," said Hilary O'Byrne, spokeswoman of Wells Fargo, in an email statement. "We are not actively engaged in data-sharing conversations with Facebook."

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First published on August 6, 9:33 a.m. PT.

Updates, 1:41 p.m. PT: Adds Citigroup spokeswoman Elizabeth Fogarty statement.