Facebook has asked major US banks to share customer data to allow it to develop new services on the social network's Messenger platform, a banking source told AFP today. Facebook had discussions with Chase, JPMorgan, Citibank, and Wells Fargo several months ago, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. The Silicon Valley-based social network also contacted US Bancorp, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
Facebook, which has come under intense criticism for sharing user data with many app developers, is interested in information including bank card transactions, checking account balances, and where purchases are made, according to the source.
A Facebook spokesperson denied that the social network had asked financial institutions for transaction data, according to a statement given to CNBC. Facebook and Citigroup did not immediately respond to AFP's requests for comment, while Wells Fargo declined to address the news.
The goal is to create new ways for Messenger to be woven into, and facilitate, interactions between banks and customers, according to the reports. The smartphone texting service boasts 1.3 billion users.
JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman Patricia Wexler directed AFP to a statement given to the Wall Street Journal saying, "We don't share our customers' off-platform transaction data with these platforms and have had to say 'No' to some things as a result." Facebook has been manoeuvring to make money from Messenger by making it a preferred way for businesses and customers to tend to purchases, delivery confirmation, complaints and more.
But word that Facebook is fishing for financial information comes amid concerns that it has not vigilantly guarded private information. Facebook acknowledged last month that it was facing multiple inquiries from US and British regulators about a scandal involving the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
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.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in May he was rolling out privacy controls demanded by European regulators to Facebook users worldwide because "everyone cares about privacy." The social network is now looking at cooler growth following a years-long breakneck pace.
Shares in Facebook plummeted last week, wiping out some $100 billion, after the firm missed quarterly revenue forecasts and warned that growth would be far weaker than previously estimated.
Shares in the social network have regained some ground, and were trading up 3.6 percent to USD 184.24 in mid-day trading on Monday.