Data Driven Futures

Regulators question Goldman Sachs’ Apple Card algo bias

Written by Hannah McGrath
11/11/19

Goldman Sachs is facing a probe by the New York financial authorities following online claims that the algorithms it uses to set credit limits for the Apple Card are gender-biased.

New York’s Department for Financial Services confirmed it has launched an investigation after Bloomberg News reported that tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson posted a series of tweets alleging he had been offered a credit limit 20 times higher than his wife when they applied for the card, despite her having a higher credit score.

Apple announced it was teaming up with Goldman Sachs to launch its credit card in March this year, amid widespread speculation that the move could mark the beginning of a string of tech giants looking to disrupt the financial services industry. The card launched in the US in August.

Heinemeier Hansson’s accusations of algorithmic bias were followed by an online debate in which Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak claimed that he and his wife had had a similar experience, prompting discussion of the potential for automated decisions driven by algorithms to produce biased results.

In an email statement sent to Reuters, Goldman Sachs said that applicants for Apple Card were evaluated independently according to income and creditworthiness, which took into account credit scores and personal debt.

The bank added that it was possible for family members to receive different credit decisions, but stated that they had not and will not make decisions “based on factors like gender”.

New York's Department for Financial Services confirmed to Reuters that an investigation is being conducted "to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all customers are treated equally regardless of sex".