Apple Starts Letting Bitcoin Transfer Apps Back Into Its App Store

Apple’s Bitcoin freeze appears to be thawing fast, with bitcoin wallet apps that offer the ability to transfer BTC now filtering back into the App Store.

The move was picked up by Coindesk yesterday which noted that the Coin Pocket BTC wallet app was back in the store. The Coin Pocket app allows users to send and receive bitcoin from an iOS device, as well as offering an in-app QR code scanner; a private key sweep and encryption feature; and the ability to check bitcoin to USD conversion rates.

Last year Apple was bumping bitcoin wallets from the App Store, taking a cautious approach to the virtual currency and enraging bitcoin enthusiasts in the process. Half a year on it looks like Cupertino is pulling the handbrake hard to make a sharp U-turn on BTC.

As well as apps allowing BTC transfers others that allow in-app bitcoin purchases, such as eGifter, are also being let into the App Store, offering a channel for developers to circumvent Apple’s 30% share of in-app purchases if their users are savvy enough to be able to pay with BTC.

Despite Apple’s prior freezing out of certain bitcoin apps, the arrival of an app like Coin Pocket which offers BTC transfer is not a huge surprise given that, at its WWDC developer conference earlier this month, Apple added a new rule to its developer agreement that sanctioned apps offering the transmission of “approved virtual currencies”.

The new rule noted that Apple will accept apps that handle virtual currency transmission as long as they comply with all state and federal laws. Coin Pocket’s bitcoin wallet also includes a warning to users that they must comply with local laws, noting: “You are liable for the use of Bitcoin in your jurisdiction.”

Writing about Apple’s virtual currency shift at the start of this month, TC’s Matthew Panzarino suggested Apple was unlikely to start accepting bitcoin apps that transmit currency in the App Store immediately. But it appears Cupertino may be willing to move faster than its prior overly cautious stance — perhaps to make up some lost ground and win back the support of bitcoin users.

It’s also worth noting that bitcoin app makers had been circumventing the App Store by offering more basic HTML5 versions of their apps that could be run on iOS devices in the browser. So Apple was not in a position to freeze them off its platform entirely. Opening up gives it the ability to keep a closer eye on BTC apps, and benefit from a growing community of virtual currency traders.