- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2018

Facebook has reportedly approached several of the biggest U.S. banks, asking them to share their customers’ financial data with the social-media giant.

According to a report Monday in the Wall Street Journal, the data included such detailed matters as checking-account balances and card transactions unrelated to Facebook purchases.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the Journal reported that over the past year Facebook has sought out JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.”

The talks, reflecting Facebook’s desire to be a site where people buy and sell goods in addition to chat with their friends and share cat videos, are being held up by the banks’ concerns about data privacy, partially a reflection of the selling of user data to Cambridge Analytica, the Journal reported.

Facebook maintains that if it gets the data from banks, it will use it to offer services that encourage people to spend more time on Messenger, and will not use it to target ads or share with third parties.

“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told the Journal. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”

Nevertheless, the Journal reported, privacy concerns led one large U.S. bank, which the paper did not name, to end the negotiations. Banks, reflecting historic practices, prefer customers to use their services electronically using the institutions’ own applications, where they control the security.

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.

According to the Journal, “Facebook shares climbed sharply on the news, up 3.5% around midday, marking the biggest gain since” a historic one-day loss of $120 billion last month.


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