In an effort to push against Monday's Wall Street Journal report, Facebook is seeking partnership with major banks to enable it to offer financial and commerce services, Ars reports.
JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are among the financial institutions the social media giant has approached and currently in talks with to share their customers' financial records so it can include services like checking of account balances and fraud alerts via Facebook Messenger.
Facebook wants access to information about where it's users shop, their card transactions and checking account balances, reports Fortune. The social media network hopes to increase the amount of time users spend on the platform while helping family and friends to experience more than online chats using its Messenger app. And what will the banks get in an exchange for sharing their financial data? Access to Facebook user information, according to the report.
"Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management," Facebook spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told Ars. Linking bank accounts with Facebook Messenger will enable people to keep track of their transactions, shopping details, and receipts in real-time.
Account linking is already available in the United States with American Express and PayPal, Citi in Singapore, she further explained. "We're not shoring up financial data."
Is it safe to give Facebook our financial records?
Electronic Frontier Foundation researcher Gennie Gebhart opined that integrating our financial records with Facebook Messager app could be "dangerous for user privacy."
“Facebook already has mountains of information about our social networks, physical movements, and activity online. Do we really want to give Facebook greater insight into our finances and purchases, too?” Gebhart told Fortune. “When we collapse all these interactions into one service, we risk giving Facebook a more and more detailed picture of who we are.”
Gebhart pointed out that centralizing more user information on a single platform makes information more "vulnerable to unauthorized sharing or leaking"
The social media giant is yet to prove it has a secure system for user privacy from criticism after data scandal with political constancy firm Cambridge Analytica which harvested private details of some 87 million Facebook users under the company's nose. A data alleged to be used in supporting Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 and the Brexit campaign.
However, Facebook said it's not using the information provided for targeted ads or share it with third parties. Elisabeth Diana made it clear that the company is not “actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data.” But a medium to allow the banks to offer real-time customer service using the Messenger app. Bank messaging will be better than waiting over the phone and "we're not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences—not for advertising or anything else," Diana said.