PNC and Venmo Argue over Access to Users’ Financial Data

Jan 2, 2020News

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, financial technology firms and banks are engaged in a dispute over access to customers’ financial data. The latest chapter in the ongoing disagreement erupted when PNC Bank customers stated that they were unable to connect their accounts to mobile payment service Venmo, which is owned by Paypal.

Responding to an inquiry about the loss of access to Venmo, PNC told one customer on Twitter, “we’ve made some security enhancements which may be causing difficulty when attempting to link your PNC [account] with Venmo. If you are having this difficulty, you may want to explore alternative means of money movement, such as Zelle, or work directly with Venmo on other options.” In response, Venmo urged its users to tweet complaints at the Pittsburgh-based bank.

Zelle is a payment service ran by Early Warning Systems, and is owned by various banks, including PNC.

While PNC customers may have experienced difficulties connecting their accounts to Venmo and other services, the issue apparently can be reduced to one involved with customer data. In short, banks securely hold key pieces of data required by FinTechs to operate, and are becoming increasingly reluctant to hand it over. In this instance, PNC blocked Plaid, a data aggregator that connects apps (including Venmo) to financial institutions, from access to end user data.

“When aggregators access account numbers, many store them indefinitely, often unbeknownst to customers. This puts customers and their money at risk,” Karen Larrimer, PNC’s chief customer officer and head of retail banking, told the Wall Street Journal.

According to PNC, data aggregators have been blocked from end user data because they have attempted to bypass security protocols.

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