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Apple removes 'last remaining' Bitcoin trading app from App Store

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Apple event 2013 (verge stock)
Apple event 2013 (verge stock)

Apple has slowly been pulling Bitcoin trading apps from the App Store, and yesterday it removed an app that claims to have been the "last remaining" one. Blockchain, which says its self-titled app has been in the store for two years, has written a scathing harangue on its blog criticizing Apple for the removal of apps that allow users to trade bitcoins. "These actions by Apple once again demonstrate the anticompetitive 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," writes Blockchain.

Bitcoin price-monitoring apps remain in the store

Blockchain suggests that Bitcoin threatens large corporations' control over existing payment systems and could stymie the success of services like Google Wallet. Apple doesn't currently operate such a service, though there have been hints that it is beginning to create one — and Blockchain's CEO, Nicolas Cary, tells Wired that he thinks this potential Apple service is the reason Bitcoin trading apps are being pulled.

Over the past several months, Apple also removed Coinbase and CoinJar, apps that similarly functioned as Bitcoin wallets — effectively an account that allows the digital currency to be traded. In a blog post discussing its removal from the App Store, CoinJar wrote that it had been in contact with Apple and was told that apps allowing bitcoins to be sent and received are generally not allowed. It suggests that Apple is concerned about legal issues surrounding Bitcoin trading, writing that it hoped to eventually be reinstated in the App Store "when [Apple has] a more clear view of Bitcoin’s place in their regulatory landscape." Other Bitcoin and virtual currency apps still remain in the App Store, however those tend to focus on monitoring the value of different currencies. Apple declined to comment for this article.

Unlike CoinJar, Blockchain says that Apple did not contact it prior to removing its app and did not provide an explanation beyond noting that there was an "unresolved issue" — apparently Blockchain's utility for trading Bitcoin. For now, pulling Bitcoin apps may be an overreaction if Apple truly is concerned over its legal stance. Though Bitcoin itself has been tied up in money laundering scandals, the US government hasn't placed many regulations on personal use of it so far. Nonetheless, Bitcoin's young and niche status may be part of what's lending to this conservative approach.