A recent report from the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) blew Facebook's aims in the financial services sector out of proportion leading to backlash from users concerned over how the social media giant might misuse their financial data.
However, the company is not interested in building a dedicated banking feature nor is it asking for credit card transaction data.
Instead Facebook is working with banks to support chatbots that allow users to access banking services right from within its Messenger app. In Singapore for instance, Citibank customers can connect their accounts to the social network which allows them to ask the bank's Messenger chatbot to check their balance, report fraud or receive customer service if they're locked out of their account.
Facebook announced chatbot integration last year and launched the new feature in March. The company also works with PayPal in over 40 countries which allows them to get receipts for their purchases via Messenger.
By building out these features further, Facebook could transform Messenger from being a mere chat app to something similar to China's WeChat which has become an increasingly popular payment platform in the country.
Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana explained how the company is working with the financial services industry to TechCrunch (opens in new tab), saying:
“A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data – this is not true. Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner 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 idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone – and it’s completely opt-in. We’re not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences – not for advertising or anything else. A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people’s information safe and secure.”
However, the social media giant has a great deal to prove to consumers if it hopes to win them back following the Cambridge Analytica scandal where users were tricked into sharing their personal data.
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