Absa’s Facebook Messenger banking sparks security fears

Fin24 users have expressed security concerns over Absa’s move to launch a ‘world-first’ Facebook Messenger internet banking service.

Absa on Tuesday [JSE:ABSP] unveiled what it calls ‘ChatBanking for Facebook Messenger', a world-first use of the social network that allows customers to access their banking services.

As part of the service, Absa customers will be able to use Facebook Messenger to view balances on their transactional accounts, buy airtime or prepaid electricity, get mini-statements or make payments to existing beneficiaries who they have paid before.

READ: Absa launches 'world-first' Facebook Messenger banking

The launch of the Facebook service follows the bank’s launch of its ChatBanking offering on social network Twitter earlier this year.

Absa has further promised to protect customers’ data via the Facebook ChatBanking channel and that account numbers and personal details will never be displayed in a chat.

“This means that even in the event of your cellphone being stolen or someone gaining access to your Facebook account, they would not be able to abuse the information,” said Ashley Veasey, group chief information officer and chief digital officer at Barclays Africa.

But despite Absa’s assurances of the safety of the service, Fin24 users are still nervous about using Facebook banking, with many saying they plan to steer clear of it, at least for now.

Fin24 user Marius said he definitely won’t use the service.

“Putting your most private information in the hands of those selling information for a living just does not make sense,” said Marius.

Fin24 user Gary Wilson also said there is “no ways” he would consider using the Facebook banking offering.                 

“Far too risky. Banks can’t even secure themselves properly now, how they going to do it on a third party platform?”

Fin24 user Viv also plans to stay away from Facebook banking.

“I do not trust this service, in particular Facebook Messenger. When such sensitive data is sent to a third party service, who is responsible for protecting them? Absa? Facebook? What happens if something goes wrong  with security? Who is responsible? I prefer not to send banking details to any third party services unless absolutely necessary and the lesser the better.

Fin24 user Harry also distrusts Facebook.

“I would not trust my details on Facebook under any circumstances I do not use facebook and never will.”

Finally, Fin24 user Gillian is open to Facebook banking, saying, “Hmm I  guess I'll  have to trust my bank ABSA to ensure security is in place.”

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

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