Bitcoin trading on iOS may have been dealt a death-blow late Wednesday, February 5th, as Apple (News - Alert) pulled Blockchain, the last remaining iOS-compatible bitcoin wallet app, from its App Store. According to Blockchain, Apple provided no satisfactory explanation for the takedown, pointing only to an “unresolved issue.”
Blockchain CEO Nicolas Cary told Wired that Apple did not provide any specific details about what constituted the “unresolved issue,” but in a company blog post it was cynically translated it to mean “because we said so.”
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The application, downloaded more than 120,000 times over its two-year tenure in the App Store, allows users to send and receive bitcoin via their mobile device. The company said they were offered no opportunity to respond or address any issues, and are unable to pinpoint any changes in recent circumstances that would account for the removal. Thus, Blockchain insists, the only logical reason Apple had to make such a decision was to eliminate the bitcoin wallet from competing with Apple’s own mobile payments system.
“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.
Blockchain may have a point: This is not the first time Apple has pulled Bitcoin-related apps from its iOS App Store. Coinbase, Gliph and CoinJar have all previously been removed from the smartphone giant’s app lineup. This is in contrast to Google (News - Alert), who at the very worst has “no current plans” regarding bitcoin. Naturally then, Blockchain is encouraging a community exodus to Android (News - Alert) in the meantime.
“The response of users to the restrictions placed on bitcoin applications have led thousands to flee to Google’s Android mobile OS, which offers a much more open environment for innovation,” read the company’s blog. “Unlike Apple, Google has accepted hundreds of bitcoin-related applications even though they also compete against the company’s own payment system “Google Wallet.”
Apple has yet to comment on the matter publically, although some are speculating that their intentions are less nefarious and more due to the ambiguous legal status of bitcoin. Digital currencies are not yet globally accepted, and this may violate App Store View Guideline 22.1, which reads, “Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer’s obligation to understand and conform to all local laws.” This is, in fact, what led to the first version of Blockchain getting the boot from the App Store in early 2012. Whether or not this is just a convenient justification for the clearing competitive mobile payments apps is up for debate.
In any case, this development is sure to serve as substantial setback for the virtual currency, and, according to Blockchain, this could have significant consequences:
“Bitcoin is a revolutionary new peer-to-peer currency and payment system that is empowering millions around the world, especially the unbanked and underbanked who can use it to gain access to international banking facilities with nothing more than a smartphone,” the company said. “Bitcoin’s use for international payments from family members sending money home to support entire communities in the developing world and for charity fundraising and fund distribution will be severely affected by this decision.”
Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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