Facebook has opened discussions with US banks over a plan to persuade them to share their customer financial data with the social media giant. It says it wants to use its access to the sensitive data to push new services to users.
News of the plans was revealed by the Wall Street Journal today (subscription required).
The data Facebook is looking to get from major US banks would include card transactions and account balances. "As part of the proposed deals, Facebook asked banks for information about where its users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger," the WSJ reported, citing "people familiar with the matter."
According to the WSJ, Facebook is currently only planning to integrate the financial data with its Facebook Messenger communications platform, and not aggregate it with the data that people routinely share on the Facebook social media platform.
"Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service. An essential part of these efforts is keeping people's information safe and secure," a Facebook spokesperson told US news network CNBC.
It added: "We don't use purchase-data from banks or credit card companies for ads."
CNBC suggested that one of the aims was to integrate users' financial information with Facebook's Messenger tool so that banks could extend their customer services onto that communications platform. The WSJ also suggested that it could offer fraud alerts to bank customers and help them keep track of their finances.
In addition to US Bancorp, Facebook has also tapped up JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup over the past year. However, one of the banks - which the WSJ didn't name - withdrew from talks citing privacy concerns.
Facebook has been dogged by data privacy concerns for years, which came to a head earlier this year following the Cambridge Analytica disclosures. That, though, was just the tip of the iceberg.
Following these scandals, Facebook's share price abruptly collapsed at the end of July when it warned investors that the need to more tightly control user data would affect its profitability for years to come.
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