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Report: Facebook asks banks for customer data

A report has revealed that Facebook has asked several major U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers. The move is an effort to offer new services to users, including information about card transactions and checking account balances.

The company over the past year has approached JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp in discussions for the banks to turn over details such as customers' card transactions and bank account balances as part of a pitch to get the banks to expand use of Facebook Messenger, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

According to the Journal, Facebook's pitch includes offering customers the ability to view their checking account balances and receive fraud alerts. Facebook also wants to know where users are shopping with their credit and debit cards.

But a major sticking point in the discussions has been concerns over Facebook's protections of user privacy.

The company has been in the crosshairs of the public and government officials over several incidents in the past year. The highest profile controversy was its agreements to give user data to outside companies such as Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political research firm that was allowed to access the private data of up to 87 million people without individuals' permission. Cambridge Analytica is now the target of several federal investigations amid allegations it coordinated with Russian interests to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election.

A least one U.S. bank pulled out of negotiations with Facebook over privacy concerns, the Journal reported.

In a statement to the Journal, Facebook said it would not use any bank customer data for ad targeting or share it with third parties.

"We don't use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads," spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told the newspaper. "We also don't have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers' purchase data for ads."

"Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service," Diana said. "An essential part of these efforts is keeping people's information safe and secure."

Tech companies are looking to banks to provide more information than can already be accessed through search and online shopping. Google and Amazon have also discussed deals with banks to share data in exchange for making services available through Google Search or Amazon's Echo personal assistant.

American Express, PayPal and Mastercard are among the financial companies that use Messenger to access certain financial services, including contacting company representatives, making purchases or transferring funds.

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