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After complaints from, among others, Steve Wozniak (Apple’s co-founder), an American financial regulator has launched an investigation into reports that Apple’s credit card is intrinsically biased against women.
The complainants say that the formulas used to determine credit limits differ for men and women. New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has now launched an inquiry into Goldman Sachs, the company that runs the Apple Card.
It said that any form of discrimination, regardless of whether it is intentional or not, “violates New York law”. Bloomberg this weekend reported on technology businessman David Heinemeier Hansson’s claim that his wife’s Apple Card credit limit was only 5% of his, despite the fact that her credit score was better.
Wozniak subsequently tweeted about a similar problem, and in his case, it was worsened by the fact that he and his wife do not have separate assets or bank accounts. Lenders such as banks are increasingly making use of algorithms to boost loan applications and reduce costs.
But, says Hansson, these algorithms can be discriminating. In his tweet, he even called Apple Card “sexist”. He added that his wife’s credit limit was increased the moment he reported the matter.
In a statement, the DFS stated that it will investigate whether any New York legislation was broken to make sure that all consumers, regardless of their sex, received equal treatment.
It added: “Any algorithm that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class violates New York law.”
Goldman Sachs issued a cookie-cutter statement over the weekend about its credit decisions never discriminating on the basis of gender, age, race or sexual orientation. It launched Apple Card in August.
This was its first-ever credit card, though it does offer savings accounts and personal loans to consumers via Marcus bank. Apple, meanwhile, promotes Apple Card online as a “new kind of credit card, created by Apple, not a bank”.