NEW YORK: Facebook has denied reports that it is asking banks for financial information about their customers but said it is exploring how to offer some banking services on Messenger.

“A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data – this is not true,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNNMoney, which noted the use of the word “actively”.

“Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management,” the spokesperson added.

“The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone – and it’s completely opt-in.”

Users can, for example, link their PayPal account to Facebook Messenger and track their account balances, receipts and shipping updates.

Facebook shares rose when the Wall Street Journal story broke, but the banks named in the article indicated they were not pursuing any such deals.

Many commentators expressed incredulity at the idea the social media giant, which has come under fire for its mishandling of user data, might be entrusted with sensitive financial information.

It makes sense for messaging and voice to be enabled for basic information, including accessing financial information, Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, told MSNBC.

“The issue here is, Is Facebook the one that should be managing your financial information?” he asked. “I don’t see how you do this as a bank executive” – given banks’ fiduciary duties and Facebook’s chequered history with data.

Sourced from CNN, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post; additional content by WARC staff