Apple opens door to virtual currencies for App Store

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Apple opens door to virtual currencies for App Store

Warwick Ashford

Apple has changed its App Store guidelines to reverse a ban on allowing in-app payments using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.

According to the amended guidelines, Apple will allow software developers to user "approved” virtual currencies, but the firm has yet to say which these are.

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Many have taken this to mean that the most widely used Bitcoin cyber-cash system will soon be included in Apple apps, according to the BBC.

The policy change marks a significant shift for Apple, which forced some apps to remove virtual payments or quit the App Store in late 2013 and early 2014.

At the time, Apple offered no explanation for the action and no option to appeal, other than saying the removal was due to “an unresolved issue”, according to the Telegraph.

Some commentators have suggested the move could be aimed at keeping up with rival Google, which has never imposed such restrictions on Android apps.

Apple’s move is also in line with the trend of a growing number of goods and service providers accepting virtual currencies as payment. Examples include rapper 50 Cent, US satellite TV operator Dish Network, US political campaigns and Australian sandwich maker Hero Subs.

Controversial currency

Apple is expected to woo back some app developers alienated by its previous tough stance against virtual currencies.

Gliph developer Rob Banagale told Bloomberg News that he was now planning to submit a new version of his secure messaging service app to Apple, because of the rule change.

Blockchain chief executive Nic Cary said the app would be back in the App Store "as soon as Apple re-approves it".

Bitcoin is surrounded by controversy and targeted by hackers, but the currency is gaining in popularity and value.

Bitcoin is built around shared software that generates “coins” by carrying out complicated mathematical operations on computers.

They are not backed by any government or central bank and are bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of central control.

In late November 2013 each Bitcoin was briefly worth about $1,000 (£596) but the value collapsed soon after. Current exchange rates are around $650.


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