Apple warms to apps using virtual currencies

Bitcoin shirts Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Apple said it would let "approved" virtual currencies be used in apps on its store

Apps accepting payments made with virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, could soon appear in Apple's app store.

The firm has changed its policy for apps to allow software developers to use "approved virtual currencies".

Apple has yet to publish a list of which virtual currencies it considers to be "approved".

Many have taken this to mean that the Bitcoin cyber-cash system will soon be included in Apple apps as it is the most widely used virtual currency.

The policy change marks a significant shift for Apple, which before now has been aggressive in its policing of apps that use virtual currencies.

In late 2013 and early 2014 Apple took action against apps that used virtual cash even though many of the programs had been available on the store for months. Some apps removed virtual currency code from their program so they could stay on the store but others were forced out altogether.

Gliph, CoinJar, Coinbase, Blockchain and other apps were all affected by the action.

By contrast, Google has had a much more open policy, and there are now many Android apps that support different virtual currencies.

Gliph developer Rob Banagale told the Bloomberg news service that he was now planning to submit a new version of his app to Apple that restored its ability to send and receive payments in bitcoins.

Virtual currencies are built around shared software that generates or "mines" coins by getting lots of computers to carry out complicated mathematical operations.

Apple's decision comes as satellite TV firm Dish says it will accept payments made in bitcoins.

In addition, the value of one bitcoin has been steadily rising in recent weeks.

In late November 2013 each bitcoin was briefly worth about $1,000 (£596) but the value collapsed soon after.

Current exchange rates suggest each one is now worth about $650.

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