Facebook Wants to Provide Banking Customer Support Via Messenger

Facebook wants customers to use its Messenger app for their banking needs, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. According to The Journal’s findings, Facebook is seeking access to users’ banking data and has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking-account balances. All this is in an effort to offer new services to users, such as fraud alerts.

The social network claims that through more access to banking data, it’ll be able to offer its customers a faster, easier customer service route than calling their bank for support. When they need to check their balance or perform a quick money transfer, for example, they can simply engage with the bank via Messenger for help, rather than having to call for support.

In a statement, Facebook further explained the move:

“Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management. The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone — and it’s completely opt-in.” 

Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana also added in a statement that Messenger conversations between banks and their customers would be free of “advertising and anything else”:

“We’re not using this information beyond enabling these (customer service) types of experiences. A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people’s information safe and secure.”

Still, experts aren’t convinced. “It’s the most intimate information about our personal behavior possible, perhaps even more intimate than how we comment on our friends’ feeds,” Zachary Townsend, the former chief data officer of California and a partner at Deciens Capital, a venture capital fund that specializes in financial technology, told The Washington Post. “The idea that Facebook, which basically aggregates information to sell to third parties, could also add financial information to that mix seems uncomfortable, given their history.”

Financial services providers including PayPal and American Express are already on Messenger. PayPal, for example, sends users receipts through Messenger to quickly confirm transactions. Now, Facebook is seeking participation from JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co, Citigroup Inc., and U.S. Bancorp.

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