WWDC 2014: Apple Allows Virtual Currencies in Apps, Opening Door to Bitcoin Payments

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

Apple Inc. changed its policy to let software developers include cryptocurrency transactions in their applications, paving the way for new forms of money like bitcoin to appear on iOS-based devices. Photo: Andy Ihnatko/Flickr

Apple Inc. changed its policy to let software developers include cryptocurrency transactions in their applications, paving the way for new forms of money like bitcoin to appear on iOS-based devices. Photo: Andy Ihnatko/Flickr

Apple Inc. introduced a few updates to its App Store guidelines, the information regarding the use of virtual currency was added in the iOS ecosystem. However it doesn’t mean that Apple accepts bitcoin, actually it might look like a more pronounced rejection than acceptance.

“While Apple didn’t mention bitcoin specifically, its developer terms now allow for certain ‘approved virtual currencies,’ without saying what those were. Apps that use the digital money must comply with state and federal laws wherever they’re designed to work, the terms say,” Olga Kharif reports for Bloomberg.

Nevertheless, with the new guidelines of App Store, the apps such as Gliph now could allow for digital currencies like bitcoin to be traded. Apple still controls what is in its apps, but the new policies have a completely new position on the issue of virtual currencies. According to Gliph, the updated document of Apple is the first time the company has officially recognized cryptocurrecies. Before that Apple has denied apps that dealt with virtual currencies and bitcoin trading, thought there were no policies against such features.

In addition, in February this year Apple removed app Blockchain, trading a storage ap, from the App Store due to unresolved issues. Gliph app was allowed to stay in the App Store as long as it removes the ability to make Bitcoin transactions.

From Apple’s review guidelines:

“11.17 Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.”

The decision made by Apple is interesting regarding the past where it aimed to remove and deny apps that encourage  virtual currencies. For example, last year Apple required to remove bitcoin capabilities from the private messaging app Gliph. Moreover, it was stated that Apple had informed a number of Bitcoin-related apps developers that their apps contained content “that is not legal in all the locations in which the app is available,” and were not suitable with Apple’s policies.

However, the impact of a new guidelines is still unclear as companies need to submit their apps for review. Moreover, Apple did not specifically mentioned Bitcoin in its update, which mean that Bitcoin transactions in the apps will be unlikely allowed by App Store.

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