Facebook asks US banks for financial info to boost user engagement

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On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook has been courting banks to enter into data-sharing agreements.

Facebook has asked major USA banks to share customer data to allow it to develop new services on the social network's Messenger texting platform, a banking source told AFP on Monday. Far less trusted Facebook, probably because it is in the business of marketing personal information to others, and more recent surveys have indicated user trust in the company has taken a nosedive.

The statement follows a story in the Wall Street Journal that said the social media giant had asked U.S. banks for such data.

'Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service.

Facebook has been trying for a long time to make its Messenger app a hub for commercial activity.

Nevertheless, the Journal reported, privacy concerns led one large USA bank, which the paper did not name, to end the negotiations. At least one has cited concerns over customers' privacy.

And while the move could help Facebook's user engagement numbers - which were negative for the first time in its history has a public company last week - it comes with a slew of privacy concerns, exacerbated by the scandal surrounding data firm Cambridge Analytica in Spring 2018.

"We haven't shared any customer information or data with Facebook or any other technology platform", Dana Ripley, a spokesman for US Bancorp, said in an emailed statement.

Facebook said it would not use any information provided by banks for targeted ads, and would not share it with third parties.

The social media giant partnered with American Express Co.in 2016 to enable customers to see past purchases, check card balances and learn about benefits and rewards through Messenger.

Wells Fargo said in a statement that "maintaining the privacy of customer data is of paramount importance" to the bank.

Citigroup declined to comment regarding any possible discussions with Facebook about Messenger. But a company representative said several unnamed banks and credit-card companies have voiced interest in teaming up with the social network, even proposing their own potential deals. Facebook's payments product was given lower than average marks on data privacy, which measures data control, collection, retention and deletion.