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Goldman Sachs faces probe after Apple Card blamed for sexism in credit check

An American businessman charged Apple Card with gender discrimination for giving him 20 times higher credit limit than his wife, even though they file joint tax returns and she has a higher credit score

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | March 9, 2020 | Updated 10:22 IST
Goldman Sachs faces probe after Apple Card blamed for sexism in credit check
The Apple Card uses a "black hat" algorithm for checking credit-worthiness, an artificial intelligence system whose decision cannot be eplained (Photo credit: Apple)

A New York financial regulator has reportedly initiated an investigation into the allegations of gender discrimination against the Apple Card and its issuer Goldman Sachs. American businessman David Heinemeier Hansson had called out Apple Card for extending him 20 times the credit limit of his wife, even though they file joint tax returns and she has a higher credit score.

In a series of tweets where he called the Apple Card a "sexist program", Hansson said that even after his wife completely paid off her limit, the card didn't approve any spending until the next billing period. He blamed Apple's "black box" algorithm for the disparity in credit limit. A black box algorithm is an artificial intelligence system whose decisions cannot be explained.

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He also shared his interactions with Apple customer service agents who couldn't explain the anomaly and blamed it on the algorithm that determines users' credit-worthiness. Hansson said that the customer service was quick to respond, but nobody is authorised to discuss the credit assessment process and there is no opportunity to present evidence.

Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak commented on the thread, sharing a similar predicament as Hansson. "The same thing happened to us. I got 10x the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It's big tech in 2019," he commented on Hansson.

After Hansson's tweets went viral, the New York Department of Financial Services initiated a probe into the matter.

"The department will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex. Any algorithm, that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class of people violates New York law," stated a spokesman for Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services.

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Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs denied any foul play in the matter. "Our credit decisions are based on a customer's creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law," Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams said.

Apple started offering the Apple Card in March this year in collaboration with banking giant Goldman Sachs. The credit card is linked to the Apple Pay and built into the Wallet app on iPhones.

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