Facebook Asked Major US Banks For In-Depth Customer Info

Facebook approached a number of major banks in the United States to ask them for in-depth financial information on their customers, going as far as to request account balances and detailed card transaction histories including shopping locations, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the move. The Menlo Park, California-based social media giant is understood to have made the approach as part of a wider initiative aimed at introducing new services to users. Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp, and Citigroup Inc. are among the list of financial giants who discussed such plans with Facebook earlier this year, with the focus being on using their data for new solutions inside the Facebook Messenger app, as per the same report.

At least one major bank already rejected the Internet juggernaut's pitch and stepped away from the talks, citing privacy concerns, sources claim. Among other things, Facebook suggested building a fraud alert service inside Messenger, in addition to letting users conveniently check their account balances within the same app. The company said it's solely interested in improving user engagement rates with the new solutions and wouldn't use any of the provided data for the purposes of targeting advertising at individuals on its platform, according to some insiders. Likewise, no data obtained from any participating financial institution would ever be shared with third parties, Facebook reportedly promised. Amazon and Google are understood to have previously approached the U.S. finance sector with similar proposals, suggesting partnerships that would see them gain access to detailed financial data of various banks' customers.

It's presently unclear whether any major U.S. bank already agreed to collaborate with Facebook and the company's planned financial services still don't have even an approximate launch window attached to them. Boosting user engagement rates is presently one of the firm's top priorities as the thereof are expected to be the main reason for what's expected to be a slow second half of the year in terms of revenue and profit margin growth. As a result, Facebook lost over $120 billion in market value following the publication of its second-quarter earnings late last month, though it already started slowly recovering.

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