Bitcoin is coming back to the App Store.
Apple has updated its developer guidelines to allow Bitcoin-related applications into its software marketplace so long as they comply with existing laws and regulations, giving the company, as the Verge notes, enough wiggle room to avoid any problems if the government continues its crackdown on the ever-controversial digital currency. (Or, at least, so it hopes.)
Pando’s Michael Carney explained the problem Apple’s crackdown posed to Bitcoin after the company temporarily removed another Bitcoin-related application, Gliph, from the App Store:
Bitcoin is a global phenomenon and Android is the mobile platform with the largest global market share. To that end, it would not be the end of the bitcoin ecosystem if Android became the exclusive home of bitcoin on mobile. But, Apple has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to validate and bring mainstream previously marginalized technologies such as touch screens, voice commands, and biometric sensors, among others.
The fear is that without Apple’s buy in, bitcoin will remain a quirky technology for government conspiracy theorists, crypto-nerds, and those lurking in the internet’s shadows. Recent events have demonstrated that bitcoin is already moving beyond this crowd, but Apple’s rejection of the platform could conceivably stall this progress.
Some developers bypassed this restriction by releasing Web-based applications that could be accessed on any smartphone. Coin Pocket, a Bitcoin wallet application that made its App Store debut on Sunday, is actually a Web-based application in a native wrapper. (Regular readers might remember how much hybrid applications like this piss me off, but that’s another issue.)
But there’s a difference between sneaking onto a platform through a mobile browser and being invited onto its dedicated software marketplace, and Apple’s decision to revise the App Store’s guidelines to allow these applications back into the fold could give them the support they need to continue growing in popularity instead of being restricted to existing users and true zealots.
Bitcoin will still have to deal with trust issues, government crackdowns, skeptical consumers, corrupt groups, and many other problems as it continues to become more mainstream, but it can now cross Apple off its list of enemies.