Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) wants some U.S. banks to hand over customer financial information. They’ve asked big banks to supply balances from checking accounts and credit card transaction details when they join Messenger.
On the surface, supplying this information would allow banks to offer customer service through the platform, but the push comes at a time when Facebook is struggling with concerns over how they handle user data.
Concerns Over Facebook Messenger and Banks
Small Business Trends contacted Dan Goldstein, president and owner of Page 1 Solutions to find out what small businesses need to know about the Facebook partnership with big banks.
Goldstein says one of the first concerns has to do with optics.
“By requesting access to private financial records of bank customers so soon after the Cambridge Analytica PR debacle, Facebook demonstrates that it is tone deaf to consumer concerns about the sharing of their private data,” he says.
“Even if there were no risks that the data might be disclosed or hacked (which is far from certain), it is clear that Facebook has not recognized the seriousness of this issue.”
Goldstein’s second worry is a familiar one for small business owners in that it centers around cybersecurity. He suggests the social media giant may have put the cart before the horse and further damaged its reputation.
“A logical first step here would be to address security and data sharing concerns first, then roll out a PR campaign explaining what steps have been taken and why consumers should feel better about Facebook. Only then would it make sense to ask banks to share their private financial data.”
Exposure of Financial Records
Basically, Messenger is a messaging platform. It allows small business owners to connect with people and manage operations. They can even buy advertising for the messages they send. The proposal for Messenger would allow for real time updates on items like shipping, receipts and account balances.
Small business can find themselves in trouble if records get hacked or accessed by a malicious actor. Goldstein suggests small businesses should steer clear if they can and proceed very cautiously if they need to opt in.
Exposure of Business Banking Account Information
“Small business owners obviously should not authorize their banks or Facebook to share their business banking account records, let alone their personal financial records,” Goldstein says, adding that if a business does decide to offer access, having a good team is essential.
“If they believe there is a good reason to do so, they should do it in consultation with their CPA, attorney and IT professional,” he says.
Finally, Goldstein suggests this latest online security concern might be a good reminder for small businesses to practice due diligence.
Exposure of Financial Transactions
“More and more financial transactions are happening online,” Goldstein says. “That trend will continue and will accelerate. This is just one small part of that. Only deal with reputable companies in connection with data and financial security,” he says.
“Work with your IT specialist to ensure that you are protected as much as possible and make a point to check back regularly to verify your situation because technology changes rapidly.”