Facebook is looking to partner with more U.S. financial institutions to provide users with account management tools and other products on its messaging platform Facebook Messenger, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
The company has talked to banks like Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo about possible products in which users could use Facebook Messenger to obtain information about their bank accounts and credit cards. That information would include aspects like account balances, transaction histories and fraud alert messages, WSJ reported. For such products to work on Messenger, Facebook has told potential partners that it would need access to users’ financial information.
Not all of the banks Facebook has approached are on board. A spokesperson for JPMorgan Chase told WSJ that it was not sharing off-platform transaction data with certain platforms.
Spokespeople for JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp, all of which were mentioned in the report, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the proposals.
In a statement, Facebook confirmed that it partners with banks and credit card companies to offer users financial management tools through Facebook Messenger, but it disputed WSJ’s characterization of the data collection, saying that it was not actively requesting banks and credit card companies offer up financial transaction data.
“A recent WSJ story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data—this is not true,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Adweek.
The spokesperson added that “like many online companies with commerce businesses,” the platform “partners with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management.”
“Account linking enables people to receive real-time updates in Facebook Messenger where people can keep track of their transaction data like account balances, receipts, and shipping updates,” the spokesperson continued. “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 said that it would not use financial data for any use other than enabling these tools.
The products described by WSJ and explained by Facebook seem similar to those that other financial institutions already offer through Facebook Messenger. PayPal’s Facebook Messenger integration, for example, allows users to send money to friends and family through Facebook Messenger and get customer service help through a PayPal chatbot on the platform. Through another partnership, customers for American Express can get purchase notifications and customer service help.
The news comes as Facebook is still facing scrutiny for its handling of users’ data in the wake of revelations that the political firm Cambridge Analytica accessed more than 87 million Facebook users’ personal information without their consent. Facebook has since rolled out a number of new rules limiting third-party data collection.
In Monday’s statement, Facebook said a “critical part” of the partnerships was keeping such financial data secure. A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to questions about which banks Facebook had contacted for possible integrations and how it goes about securing users’ financial information through the integrations.