Is Apple finally relaxing its stance on Bitcoin apps?


Attendees take a break during Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

In a potential course correction, Apple is opening to the idea of letting iPhone users make payments with bitcoins and other alternate currencies.

The company's updated its developer guidelines to allow apps that "facilitate" transactions made with "approved" cryptocurrencies:

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.

Apple has never previously addressed the issue of virtual currencies. But developers have struggled to get Bitcoin-related apps such as digital wallets into their app store. As recently as February, Apple pulled the popular Blockchain app from the app store, which lets users send and receive bitcoins from their mobile devices. At the time, the company cited an "unresolved issue" with the app.

That Apple is addressing virtual currencies explicitly is another indication that Bitcoin and the like are becoming increasingly mainstream, even if the company is reserving a huge amount of say over what it'll allow on the app store. It's also possible that Apple will continue to keep Bitcoin apps off-limits, as it requires developers to be legally compliant in "all territories" — which, considering how many regulators are still struggling to understand the technology, might restrict developers for a long time.

An spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment Tuesday.

If Apple does loosen its policy on virtual currencies, it's fair to ask what types are on its list. Presumably it's monitoring Bitcoin. But could it also been considering Dogecoin?

Apple. Wow. Such develop. Many generous.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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