BaFin Seeks Deutsche Bank Clarification on Business Communications via WhatsApp

Deutsche Bank

German financial watchdog BaFin has ordered Deutsche Bank to clarify how its staff uses private messages on WhatsApp for business purposes, part of a worldwide effort to curb the practice of mixing business with personal lives.

Senior Deutsche Bank executives, including management board members, have been relying on WhatsApp, other messaging tools and private email accounts to conduct business, people familiar with the matter said, according to a Bloomberg report Monday (May 16).

BaFin wants to ensure Deutsche Bank officials are in compliance with banking rules, the sources said. The request comes at a time when Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing has spent billions of dollars trying to fix the bank’s controls and improve relations with supervisors.

Sewing is among those who have used WhatsApp to communicate about Deutsche Bank matters, including with German businessman Daniel Wruck, whose role in the bank’s business deals and its investment arm DWS is now under scrutiny by German investigators.

“We do not comment on our dialog with regulators,” a Deutsche Bank spokesman told Bloomberg by email. A spokeswoman for BaFin declined to comment on the report.

Deutsche Bank launched an internal investigation after the use of private emails by DWS CEO Asoka Woehrmann and recently reminded employees that they shouldn’t delete business-related WhatsApp messages, according to Bloomberg.

The German lender has also been piloting a new tool since April to improve communications oversight on private channels by recording and archiving them, one person told Bloomberg.

Related: WhatsApp Developing Subscription Plan for Business App

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has been working on offering business subscription plans that would let multiple employees of the same company chat with a single customer simultaneously. The plan would also enable employees to link up to 10 devices instead of the currently allowed four.

The latest report on the multiuser options also said WhatsApp will continue to operate for free. The messaging app is owned by Facebook.