Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Apple Allows Virtual Currencies in Apps, Opening Door to Bitcoin

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:
Apple Changes Policy To Virtual Currency
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., watches a demonstration during a keynote address at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. Apple is warming up to virtual currencies after previously blocking programs like Blockchain.info from its App Store. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. changed its policy to let software developers include virtual-currency transactions in their applications, paving the way for new forms of money like bitcoin to appear on iPhones and iPads.

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.

The change signals that Apple is warming up to virtual currencies after previously blocking programs like Blockchain.info from its App Store. Bitcoin is the most popular digital currencies, which governments are struggling to determine how to regulate because they exist only as software.

“This is a sign that the ecosystem is maturing and gaining credibility,” Bill Lee, an investor in bitcoin wallet BitGo, said in an e-mail. “To be clear, I still think bitcoin is in its infancy as a technology, but its acceptance is becoming more and more mainstream.”

Bitcoin entrepreneurs were already predicting an explosion of activity.

“Get ready for a plethora of bitcoin iOS apps!” bitcoin venture capitalist Adam Draper said in an e-mail. “Very exciting news!”

Developer Rob Banagale said he’s planning to submit a new version of his app, called Gliph, which was kicked out of Apple’s store last year because it let users send bitcoins to each other in instant messages. Banagale had to strip out that function for iOS devices; the app is only fully functional on phones and tablets that use Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

‘Giving Up’

“If anything, Apple had more to lose by keeping bitcoin off the App Store,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. “Bitcoin users were not going to give up bitcoin - they were giving up on the iPhone.”

After Apple removed Blockchain, several people posted videos online destroying their iPhones. One user shot his iPhone with a sniper rifle, another smashed it with a metal bar and another threw it down a flight of stairs.

After topping $1,000 late last year, Bitcoin’s price plummeted to $360.84 in April. It has since rebounded, reaching about $667 yesterday.

While bitcoin and other virtual currencies still aren’t used by many retailers and service providers, they are gaining acceptance. Last month, satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp. said it will soon begin accepting bitcoin payments from subscribers.

‘Suppressed Potential’

Getting access to iPhones could help increase bitcoin’s use, as Apple is the top U.S. smartphone manufacturer, with a 41 percent average share of the market in the three months ending in March, according to ComScore Inc. Until now, most users have had to use their PCs or Android phones to pay for goods and services with bitcoin at food carts, restaurants and stores.

“It’s critical that Apple allows bitcoin transmission to occur,” Banagale said in an interview. “If we can’t get apps into the App Store, bitcoin will always going to be suppressed in its potential.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at srabil@bloomberg.net Crayton Harrison, Pui-Wing Tam

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.