Facebook asks US banks for financial info to boost user engagement

Mark Zuckerberg Co Founder and CEO of Facebook returns from a break to answer the last of the Member's questions as he testifies before a meeting of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce during a hearing on

The Wall Street Journal originally reported that over the past year, Facebook had been asking banks to share financial information on customers, including spending habits and bank account balances, as a way to better integrate commerce into Facebook, and specifically Messenger. Facebook tried to persuade banks to give it their users' data by promising them features such as users being able to see their checking account balances or receiving fraud alerts within Facebook Messenger.

While reactions on social media to the WSJ were often critical of the report, especially from people already concerned about Facebook's handling of its own private user data, the company was quick to issue a rebuttal. Facebook's payments product was given lower than average marks on data privacy, which measures data control, collection, retention and deletion. "A recent WSJ story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data-this is not true", Facebook said in statement. One bank has reportedly pulled out of discussions with Facebook because of the issue. That app now boasts 1.3 billion users and serves as the company's commerce center. The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone - and it's completely opt-in.

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JPMorgan isn't "sharing our customers' off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result", spokeswoman Trish Wexler told the Journal. (JPM), Wells Fargo & Co. "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" Diana told TechCrunch.

In a statement to the Journal, a Facebook spokesperson said it will not use the new financial data for advertisements.

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Facebook last week saw $120 billion wiped off its market value after reporting a tailing off in new users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In Facebook's worst ever public relations disaster, it admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which was working for US President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.

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