Aldo Agostinelli

Give us users’ bank data, including their accounts balance and the list of transactions made by cash or by credit and debit cards, and we will provide some new services. This is the request which has been put forward by Menlo Park to US banks.

As Wall Street Journal explained, Facebook purpose is to boost online sales made through their platform. However, after Cambridge Analytica scandal (ref. “Data and users: who is willing to give up targeting?”), privacy has become everybody’s concern. To the point that, despite the reassurance that such data would neither be used for adv targeting nor for sharing with third parties, one of the biggest banks involved has decided to back off.

On the other hand, Facebook intends to use such additional information about their users to develop new services aimed, for instance, to display notifications about bank accounts balances, in order to push Messenger 1 billion and three-hundred active users to spend more time on the platform. Such approach seems to appeal to investors, who, after a period featuring a negative trend and losses amounting in 119 billion dollars, last August rewarded the social platform with an increase of +4,45%, i.e. the biggest daily earnings since the decrease of the previous month.

Although banks may need to consolidate their presence online, they appear to be skeptical. Indeed, Facebook seems to have also asked, as part of the agreement, data related to the purchases made by users outside Messenger and many people have raised an eyebrow and backed off. In some cases they also had to reassure their clients about the fact that they would not provide data to other platforms. Considering this wave of mistrust, Facebook claimed they just intend to cooperate with traditional banks to offer a better service through a chatbot, as they already do with American Express, Mastercard and PayPal (Facebook wants financial data from America’s largest banks).

Nevertheless, Facebook is not the only online giant wishing to establish partnerships with banks: Google and Amazon are also courting them to add some bank services to their voice assistants. The main difference is that, while many users didn’t trust Facebook even before Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to a recent survey conducted by The Verge, most users trust Amazon as much as they trust their banks.

Thus, we may predict that Facebook will succeed in the long run. However, if in the US these news have generated such controversial reactions, we can only imagine what the European reaction may be, taking into consideration the GDPR.

Do you trust Facebook data policy? Would you be willing to provide them your bank data? Tweet @agostinellialdo

 To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book entitled: “People Are Media

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Aldo Agostinelli