Big Banks Hit with WhatsApp Fines. Learn how to keep your company safe!


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Most readers will already be familiar with WhatsApp, often used within personal lives as a primary source of communication between family and friends. While using WhatsApp for business purposes is often tempting, it is highly recommended to avoid for good reason. This article will highlight recent cases where big banks received WhatsApp fines for using the messaging service internally. In addition, learn tips and tricks that help keep your company safe from the same outcome.

Why shouldn’t you use WhatsApp for Field Service or Customer Support?

While the current crackdown is within the banking sector, it is vital to ensure your business is prepared as potentially this is just the start. The crackdown could move to other industries and sectors as GDPR regulations are tightened and enforced more. While the good intention to assist colleagues and customer through already established personal communication channels is tempting, your business might be put at risk for a number of reasons.

WhatsApp have been fined for breaching GDPR.

WhatsApp was fined €225 Million by the Irish Data Protection Commission in 2021 relating to a 2018 investigation regarding how transparent WhatsApp had been when handling customer information. This is the second largest GDPR fine ever at the time, however as of July 2021 the European data protection board told the Irish DPC to reassess its findings and reduce the fine to €30 – 50 Million instead. WhatsApp are currently fighting this fine within Irish courts and it’s expected a resolution won’t be found for years to come. – Source: BBC.

You risk breaching GDPR & your privacy policy.

By using third party chat apps like WhatsApp for internal business communication might put you at risk of breaching GDPR or even your own privacy policy. The risk is you might expose your customers data, your internal business practises and more to a third-party such as WhatsApp. Depending on your privacy policy, sharing customer data with unauthorised third parties might put your business at risk of breaching your policy. Leaving you liable to fines and potentially lawsuits depending if damages occur as a result.

How can my business be protected?

The best way to protect your business against the risk of WhatsApp fines is to utilize secure GDPR compliant channels of communications for business purposes. Not only will you protect your own business, but you also keep customer data safe from the potential of exposure to third parties.

Use AIRe Link for remote visual support.

When customers require remote visual support, often personal communication channels are utilized such as WhatsApp, however as mentioned above this could leave your business liable to fines for breaching GDPR and your privacy policy. It’s best to use a GDPR compliant remote visual support tool such as AIRe Link to assist your customer visually. In addition to being able to connect visually, the tools provided ensure you can offer a higher-quality service to customers who will notice the difference. Learn more about why businesses should use AIRe Link instead of WhatsApp.

Use GDPR compliant messaging channels.

For internal and customer communications it is highly recommended to only use GDPR secure channels which are also outlined within your privacy policy. For customer communication, emails and recorded phone lines are the best option to ensure a record of communication is kept in line with GDPR regulations. For internal communications secure channels are a must as customer data will be exchanged between employees. Good GDPR communication apps such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and more can provide your business the security it requires. It’s best to research messaging apps before settling on one for internal business communications to ensure security and compliance is a feature.

Share this article with colleagues.

The risks to using WhatsApp are not well-known amongst employees which can further put your business at risk. Although you may tell employees not to use WhatsApp, without them understanding the reasoning behind, they might still do so. Sharing this article with colleagues and friends ensures they understand the risks, making it less likely they will do so to avoid WhatsApp fines.

The banks facing WhatsApp fines!

The key focus for regulators word-wide has been the use of WhatsApp within business environments for internal communication. The most notorious cases are from the banking sector were US regulators reached settlement agreements with a wide range of banks totalling more than $2 Billion USD in fines for the use of unauthorised channels of communication for business purposes. The primary concern of regulators was, communication records were not being kept and could easily be deleted from WhatsApp without trace, which goes against banking regulations on record keeping. Here are a few top examples of banks hit with WhatsApp fines.

JPMorgan Chase.

The banking firm JPMorgan Chase has been hit with fines from the security and exchange commission ($125 Million) in addition to the commodity future trading commission ($75 Million) totalling $200 Million USD for allowing employees to utilize WhatsApp, and other unsecure channels for communication. The SEC officials stated, “JPMorgan’s failure to preserve those offline conversations violated federal securities law and left the regulator blind to exchanges between the bank and its clients.” – Source: CNBC.

Deutsche Bank.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank’s CEO Christian Sewing and his top nine executives promised to forgo a fraction of their 2021 bonuses totaling €75,000 or just 1.4% of the CEO’s expected yearly bonus. The decision was made to show they’re taking some responsibility for the misuse of unauthorized messaging apps within the bank, however was taken just after JPMorgan received a $200 Million USD fine, potentially in an attempt to avoid serious consequences from regulators – Source: Financial Times.

Other Banks.

In addition to JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, other banks including Bank of America, Barclay, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and UBS are expected to pay $200 Million USD in fines each for their usage of unauthorized messaging apps like WhatsApp. – Source: Wall Street Journal.

Want to try AIRe Link?

Want to give AIRe Link a try? Book a meeting for free with one of our representatives who can guide you through how to use the platform and answer any questions you may have. Best of all AIRe Link Basic is free to use so you can properly test out the solution to see if it is right for your business requirements before going Pro.