Watch out: Online banking upstart wants to mine your personal information

Woman looking at mobile phone

A forthcoming online banking storefront, Movenbank, hopes to launch the next generation of banking by enabling consumers to use Facebook to register and log on to its services.

Facebook for online banking? What could possibly go wrong?

Movenbank won't actually be a bank. Instead, it will serve as sort of a social media interface between you and the big faceless bank that holds your cash. Nor will Facebook be the actual banking portal; that will be done via your mobile phone, tablet or computer using the usual authentication protocols.

"We are creating a new category of banking, the Amazon vs. traditional bookstore idea," says Brett King, the online entrepreneur behind Movenbank.

Sounds harmless enough until you get to his sign-up concept. Rather than entering all that boring personal data that banks require to open an account (and the law requires them to protect, by the way), Movenbank customers will use Facebook to register and log on, a process King calls "social sign-in."

We all know how secure Facebook is, right? Oh wait; didn't I read something about the Federal Trade Commission calling Facebook's privacy statements to its users "unfair" and "deceptive"?

But King says privacy is being redefined by social media. Movenbank, he says, simply hands consumer the controls over what personal data they choose to share.

My curiosity piqued, I wandered over to Movenbank's "private alpha" site and checked out the "Our Vision" tab. It reads in part:

"Movenbank understands that many factors go into understanding you and what makes you a valued, trustworthy customer. At Movenbank, what you and your friends value helps us paint the larger picture of who YOU are as an individual. For us, it’s not all about the numbers. We take into account your credibility as a friend, colleague, and customer."

Folks, that's not customer service; that's data mining, the new Holy Grail of desperation banking.

Here's what Movenbank wants to know, according to its own blog: "We are collecting the information available on your Facebook profile’s 'Info' screen that you have marked as Public. We are using information like your first and last name, current location, and profile picture to customize your Movenbank Dashboard.

"We are looking at your list of friends, identifying which of them are also Movenbank Alpha Team members and are showing you each other’s personality, but only if both of you both choose to share this information."

I don't want any faceless, for-profit outfit taking into account my "credibility as a friend, colleague and customer," for financial or any other purpose.

And my growing concern is that, by giving consumers the illusion of privacy (controls!), Movenbank and the countless financial services middlemen like it are simply giving consumers plenty of rope with which to hang themselves.

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