Twitter complainer says Apple is to blame for credit card issues

Key Points
  • Apple should take responsibility over decisions regarding credit limits for the Apple Card, says the man who alleges the algorithm is biased against women.
  • The Apple Card is a joint venture between Goldman Sachs and Apple.
  • "I don't feel like I'm a customer of Goldman Sachs. I feel like I'm a customer of Apple," David Heinemeier Hansson tells CNBC.
Author of viral tweet on Apple card probe
Author of viral tweet on Apple card probe

Apple is wrong to try and deflect responsibility regarding claims of gender bias involving the Apple Card to Goldman Sachs, the man whose viral tweets sparked an investigation by Wall Street regulators told CNBC on Monday.

David Heinemeier Hansson, a tech entrepreneur, alleged on Twitter last week that the Apple Card gave him a credit limit 20 times higher than the one it gave his wife, even though she has the higher credit score and the couple jointly files tax returns. The New York Department of Financial Services opened an investigation into Goldman's credit card practices after Hansson's tweets.

"I don't feel like I'm a customer of Goldman Sachs," Hansson, creator of the Ruby on Rails programming framework, said on "Closing Bell." "I feel like I'm a customer of Apple."

In a March blog post announcing the venture, Apple said it was launching "an innovative, new kind of credit card created by Apple and designed to help customers lead a healthier financial life."

Apple launched Apple Card in August, in partnership with both Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. Hansson says that because Apple's brand is on the card, the company has to accept responsibility for problems that ensue, similar to if the iPhone was defective.

"Do I go to Foxconn if I have an issue with my iPhone? Of course I don't," he said. "I go to Apple. This is an Apple product, and Apple owns this fully."

Source: Apple

Goldman does play a role in that it's in charge of who gets approved for the card. In August, CNBC reported that the investment bank was accepting applications from some people who had less-than-stellar credit scores.

In a statement released Sunday, Goldman said it doesn't consider gender in credit decisions and evaluates all applications independently. Goldman also said it's looking into ways for family members to share a single Apple Card account.


Hansson said he was first told by Goldman representatives that the algorithm made the decision on credit limits and that he and his wife could check back in six months. He said managers at Apple similarly told him the algorithm was behind the determination.

Eventually, Hansson claims it was representatives from Apple who reached out to his wife, following his tweets, to say they were reviewing the variations in credit limits. His wife ultimately had her credit limit raised to equal his, he said.

"Apple is intimately involved with this," Hansson said.

He said that while it's unlikely that people at Goldman or Apple wrote an algorithm with the purpose of discriminating against women, the result of the algorithm is what's important. The lead regulator investigating Goldman Sachs made a similar argument earlier on Monday.

Hansson said he and his wife both signed up for the Apple Card due to the enhanced levels of security it promised.

"Apple advertises this card as a new kind of credit card that is signed by Apple, not a bank," he said. "So the fact that Apple defers all material questions to creditworthiness to Goldman Sachs is exceedingly poor."

Apple and Goldman did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Hansson's remarks.

— CNBC's Hugh Son contributed reporting

WATCH: Full interview with author of viral tweet on Apple Card probe

Full interview with author of viral tweet on Apple Card probe
Full interview with author of viral tweet on Apple Card probe