The New York financial regulator is investigating claims of gender discrimination by the new credit card from tech giant Apple and its issuer Goldman Sachs, after a cardholder's tweet about his wife's credit limit went viral.
American businessman David Heinemeier Hansson had tweeted on Thursday that the Apple Card is a "f *** ing sexist program".
He said the card's "black box" algorithm had given him 20 times the credit limit of his wife, even though they file a joint tax return and she has a higher credit score.
He tweeted a series of messages recounting fruitless chats with Apple customer service agents, who were unable to explain the disparity but blamed it on the algorithm that determined an applicant's credit-worthiness.
A "black box" algorithm refers to artificial intelligence systems whose decisions cannot be explained.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak replied to the tweet, saying he and his wife had a similar experience.
I'm a current Apple employee and founder of the company and the same thing happened to us (10x) despite not having any separate assets or accounts. Some say the blame is on Goldman Sachs but the way Apple is attached, they should share responsibility.
– Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) November 10, 2019
In March, Apple started offering the Apple Card, issued by banking giant Goldman Sachs.
New York state regulators will "be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex," said a spokesman for Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services.
"Any algorithm that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class of people violates New York law."
Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams said: "Our credit decisions are based on a customer's creditworthiness and not on factors such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law."