Would You Trust a Facebook Bot With Your Personal Finance Information?

Would You Trust a Facebook Bot With Your Personal Finance Information?
Todor Tsvetkov

If Siri and Facebook Messenger got together and had a love child, her name would be Cleo.

Cleo is a smart personal finance bot that sits quietly in Messenger waiting for you to ask her questions about the state of your bank accounts and budgets.

You can ask her things like:

  • “What’s my balance?”
  • “How much have I spent at Starbucks this month?”
  • “How’s my budget looking?”
  • “What bills do I have left to pay this month?”

Cleo responds with a detailed answer that even includes emojis for a little extra sass.

The bot already understands over 10,000 questions. Thanks to built-in artificial intelligence software, the more you use it, the smarter it gets.

Cleo currently only works with U.K.-based banks but is “expanding shortly” to other parts of the world.

Are Personal Finance Bots Safe?

Cleo may be the newest personal finance bot to join the Facebook Messenger family, but it’s not the only one. Mastercard, American Express and Bank of America’s bots are among the many money management bots available to Facebook users.

But are they secure?

Cleo’s developers say the bot is “extremely safe and secure.” It uses the same type of security features banks use to encrypt data and keep it away from prying eyes.

The company says Facebook can’t see your information either and that’s it’s “merely the platform that Cleo uses to chat with you.”

Similarly, American Express says, “Card Member account data is provided to Facebook via the Amex bot for Messenger in a safe and secure manner.”

OK, that’s vague.

It’s in a financial organization’s best interest to keep personal information safe, especially since data breaches can cost many millions of dollars. The lack of transparency about precisely how data is secured is understandable since companies don’t want to connect the dots too clearly for criminals.

Unfortunately, that leaves consumers in the dark about whether personal finance bots really are safe to use.

If you’re debating whether to use automated personal finance tools on your favorite social media platform, consider this: Nothing on the internet is completely out of reach for determined criminals.

Your turn: What’s your take on money management bots?

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Follow her on Twitter @LisaH.