Facebook Inc. reportedly wants to access consumers’ banking data in order to create more features for its platform and track consumer spending habits. The company has reportedly approached JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and US Bancorp about its plans. The detailed financial information the company is asking for includes card transactions and checking-account balances.
The company wants to host the new features through Facebook Messenger, according to people familiar with the matter. Potential offerings it could host for bank customers include displaying account balances and alerting them to potential fraudulent activity on their account. Facebook said in a statement that it wouldn’t use the bank data for ad-targeting purposes or share it with third parties. Bank customers would need to opt-in to the proposed services.
Facebook is actively seeking ways to increase user engagement on its platform. After the company reported slowing user growth, the stock shed more than $120 billion from its market value in one day last month. Messenger currently has about 1.3 billion monthly active users, according to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. have also asked banks to share data with them. They need the information held by the banks to offer basic banking services on applications such as Google Assistant and Alexa. However, banks prefer to keep customers on their own websites and apps, where they have more control over the flow of data.
Privacy and security are big issues for the tech companies, especially for Facebook. Earlier this year, it was found that 87 million of its users had their information accessed without their consent for political purposes. The scandal, involving political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, has sparked several investigations into how Facebook secures users’ information.