Slowly, but surely, Bitcoin, and other virtual currencies, are gaining wider acceptance. They have gone from something that few understood, to something that many feared, to something that seems to now inevitably be the next big thing.
On Monday, digital currencies took what could be a very big step forward: at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, got a major player on board.
Apple announced at the Conference that it has updated its its App Store Review guidelines, adding a new rule will allow apps in the App Store to use virtual currencies, as long as they are legal.
"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 new rule says.
That rule may appear to be straightforward, but there are some unanswered questions. Such as, does the rule allow apps to be paid for by virtual currency? Or can apps actually sell users goods and services within their app for virtual currency as well?
Also, the language of "approved currencies" should raise a few eyebrows. How will Apple choose which currencies are approved and which are not? And, finally, you have to wonder how long it will be it before apps that accept virtual currency can actually appear in the App Store. I don't expect them to pop-up overnight.
VatorNews has reached out to Apple to get answers to these questions, and we will update the story if we hear more.
No matter what happens, the fact that Apple is recognizing digital currencies will no doubt go a long way toward legitimizing them for a lot of people. Companies like Zynga, and RealtyShares, had already begun experimenting, and accepting Bitcoin, but Apple could put it over the top.
Plus, this is good news for Apple, which had developed a bad reputation among the Bitcoin community after it blocked virtual currency apps, like digital wallets Coinbase and Blockchain.
In response, Blockchain wrote a scathing blog post in February,
"These actions by Apple once again demonstrate the anti-competitive and capricious nature of the App Store policies that are clearly focused on preserving Apple’s monopoly on payments rather than based on any consideration of the needs and desires of their users," the company wrote. "Apple’s censorship of bitcoin applications, especially when viewed in the context of removing a 2 year app with 120,000 downloads is historic and unprecedented."
A petition even sprang up on Change.org ro reinstate those Bitcoin wallet apps. It got over 6,000 signatures.
Perhaps sensing that it was losing the battle, and didn't want to end up on the wrong side of history, Apple has finally acquiesced.
(Image source: e27.co)