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Citigroup Inc. (C) began asking Facebook Inc. (FB) users a provocative question over the weekend. The third- biggest U.S. bank wants to know whether Web surfers would be willing to use the social-networking service to do banking.
“If you could do your banking on Facebook -- would you?” Citigroup asked from its company page, which has more than 300,000 “likes.” The question went live on July 14 and has elicited more than 130 comments, many of them pointed.
Facebook, working to give users more reasons to stay logged on, lets other companies use its pages to offer such services as renting movies, playing games and tracking exercise sessions. ICICI Bank Ltd. (ICICIBC), an India-based financial institution, offers a “bank app” that lets customers check balances and get account statements. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced plans this month to release a Facebook application that lets customers view balances and make payments.
While Citigroup gave no indication whether it’s considering social banking, the company could use banking tools on Facebook to let customers raise money for causes, said Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Altimeter Group LLC in San Mateo, California. The New York-based bank could also harness Facebook for e-commerce, or it could use anonymized data to help users learn what other people are doing with their money, Owyang said.
“I don’t really think Facebook.com is a place you want to do your actual banking,” Owyang said.
Citigroup regularly interacts with Facebook users on banking-related innovations they might like to see, said Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman for Citigroup.
This “was part of a series of questions we’ve been asking to encourage discussion around innovation in banking products and services and was prompted by a recent announcement out of Australia about a payment app using Facebook,” she said in an emailed statement. “Our followers find these discussions useful and engaging, and we learn from the responses.”
Many respondents to Citigroup’s question rejected the idea of banking on Facebook. Some people cited privacy and security concerns. The post had recently attracted 768 “likes,” according to the site.
“Facebook is a platform and a partnership company with tools available to brands, agencies, and developers across industries,” Malorie Lucich, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, said in an e-mailed statement.
Citigroup rose less than 1 percent to $26.81 at the close today. Facebook slid 8.1 percent to $28.25.
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