Facebook is asking major U.S. banks for financial data in order to provide more online shopping services and to track consumer spending habits, The Wall Street Journal reported.
But according to the Journal, financial institutions are reluctant to partner with the social media network over privacy concerns. One bank has reportedly pulled out of discussions with Facebook because of the issue.
The news comes as Facebook struggles to fend off concerns that arose from a privacy scandal in which a political consulting firm obtained data on 87 million users without their knowledge.
Facebook told the paper that any financial information it obtains would not be shared with third parties or used to target advertisements.
“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” Facebook spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told the Journal. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”
The talks are part of an effort to make Facebook Messenger more of a destination for online shopping. According to the Journal’s sources, companies like Google and Amazon are also exploring similar partnerships.
“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 added. “An essential part of these efforts is keeping people’s information safe and secure.”
Facebook later accused the Journal of misrepresenting its talks with banks, emphasizing that they are intended to develop features that would allow users to voluntarily track their own accounts and interact with customer service representatives.
“A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data — this is not true," Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement Monday afternoon. "Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management."
Stone added that 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," he said. "A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people's information safe and secure.”
Updated at 12:51 p.m.