Apple Co-Founder Says Apple Card Algorithm Gave Wife Lower Credit Limit

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(Reuters) – Apple Inc AAPL.O Co-founder Steve Wozniak has joined the online debate over accusations of gender discrimination by the algorithm behind the iPhone maker’s credit card, fueling scrutiny of the new Apple card.

The criticism began on Thursday, after entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson denounced the Apple card in a series of Twitter posts, claiming it was giving it 20 times the credit limit his wife had received.

The much-anticipated titanium credit card, part of a larger Apple effort to squeeze more revenue from services after years of heavy reliance on iPhone sales, was launched in August, in partnership with Goldman. Sachs Group Inc. GS.N.

In an email, Goldman said applicants for the Apple Card are independently assessed, based on their income and creditworthiness, taking into account factors such as personal credit scores and personal debt.

It was possible for two family members to receive very different credit decisions, the bank said, but added: “We have not and will not be making decisions based on factors such as gender.”

Hansson, who is the creator of the Ruby on Rails web application framework, did not disclose any specific income-related information for himself or his wife, but tweeted that they had filed joint tax returns and that his wife had better credit score.

On Saturday, Wozniak recounted a similar experience, claiming he had 10 times more credit on the card than his wife.

“We don’t have separate bank accounts or credit cards or separate assets,” Wozniak said on Twitter, responding to Hansson’s original tweet.

“Difficult to reach a human for a correction though. It’s big technology in 2019. ”

The New York City Department of Financial Services has said it is opening an investigation into Goldman Sachs’ credit card practices.

“New York law prohibits discrimination against protected categories of individuals,” Linda Lacewell, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, wrote in a blog post. (bit.ly/2Ny1TUA)

This excluded an algorithm, like any other method of determining creditworthiness, from disparate treatment based on individual characteristics such as age, beliefs, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, among others, she added.

“We know that the issue of discrimination in algorithmic decision making extends to other areas of financial services as well.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on Sunday.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bangalore; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Clarence Fernandez

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