Facebook’s Newest Feature Could Be Banking

By Justin Lafferty 

It’s no secret that Facebook is trying to become a destination site, where you do pretty much everything possible online through the social network. According to CNN/Fortune, you might soon be able to do your banking on Facebook, too.

Facebook has already reached out to one financial institution — Australia’s Commonwealth Bank. The partnership is currently in beta testing, but likely sometime later this year, members of that bank will be able to use Facebook to pay bills, as well as to send money to Facebook friends. Commonwealth Bank has its own authentication process, similar to how it handles banking on its website, to ensure that all transactions are safe.

Facebook declined to comment about the move into online banking.

However, Facebook Director of Global Marketing Solutions David Robinson acknowledged that Facebook-based banking won’t be for everyone. He told a group of bankers during a recent New York seminar that the company understands that many people still prefer to have an in-person interaction with their financial institution:

There are certain things, whether itʼs financial services or banking, where I donʼt necessarily want my friends to know exactly what Iʼm doing, right? … I want to be able to go in and have an experience with my advisor or my bank and have that be a one-on-one experience.

If this practice becomes more mainstream, we hopefully won’t see notifications that close friends just made a deposit or paid their credit card bill. When it comes to money and Facebook, this situation could be ripe for scams. Commonwealth Bank told Fortune that it wouldn’t go through with this unless the bank can offer customers a 100 percent guarantee of security.

Fortune‘s Lauren Barack explains:

And while Facebook may be encouraging banks to open virtual outposts today, other industries will likely also be interested in creating a private walled garden on the platform. Sure, people are coming to Facebook to share their vacation photos with pals. But why not collect their paycheck, buy medical insurance, or pay the IRS there, as well?

The company makes no bones that it sees itself as a channel where users supply content with Facebook acting solely as the conduit. However, touting itself as a place for privacy is an unusual marketing pitch from social media’s grand dame. And it’s one that officially Facebook won’t officially acknowledge.

Readers: Would you trust Facebook enough to do your banking through the social network?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.