Business Technology

Sunday 31 August 2014

Apple's new app policy could allow Bitcoin payments

Martyn Landi

Published 03/06/2014 | 17:35

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digital currency Bitcoin
digital currency Bitcoin

iPhone and iPad maker Apple has changed its app policy so that virtual currencies like Bitcoin could be approved for the first time.

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Until now, the Cupertino technology giant has rejected or removed any apps that facilitated the movement of virtual currency, but this update to the App Store Review Guidelines shows a change of heart.

Apple is hosting its annual developers' conference, WWDC, in San Francisco, and has announced a host of updates to its mobile and desktop operating systems, including a new piece of software called HomeKit that will enable users to control lighting, heating and other appliances in their home via their iOS device.

The updated version of the guidelines now say: "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."

Experts believe that this will soon mean Bitcoin could be stored in-app for downloads from the Apple App Store as it is the most popular form of the currency. Google's platform Android already accepts the digital money.

Jay Karsandas, Digital Manager at Mobiles.co.uk, said: "The action that Apple has taken in allowing apps to transmit approved virtual currencies seems like the next natural step in adapting to the ever-growing prominence of cyber-cash systems, such as bitcoin.

"We are doubtful that Apple will open the door to Bitcoin mining or significant sums passing through apps; more likely this will be an opportunity for iOS devices to act as bitcoin wallets for use in online purchases, similar to what the Google Play store already offers."

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin are built around shared software, with users carrying out transactions directly with one another without having to go through a bank or other third party. Users create or 'mine' new coins by taking part in mathematical operations within the system.

The value of Bitcoin has been steadily increasing, with the value of single coins briefly surpassing £1,000 last year. It is one of a growing number of virtual currencies that are starting to circulate online.

Apple is yet to comment on the update.

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