Ethereum and its native currency ether have received the lion’s share of hype and media attention these days. But could Apple iOS policy be a stumbling block to mass acceptance?
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Ether Banned from App Store
One developer, who wished to remain anonymous, said Apple had told her unofficially that ether (ETH) was not an “approved” virtual currency under Apple’s guidelines – and thus no apps that facilitated transmission of ETH between parties could be green-lighted for the iOS App Store at this time.
This would apply only to wallets and games that could send/receive ETH. There are several other apps that track ETH price or the Ethereum blockchain, such as Ether Portfolio and Ethereum Stats.
Apple does not publish a list of approved currencies. However, the only cryptocurrencies with wallets currently available in the iOS App Store are Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin.
Developers of the Jaxx Bitcoin/Ethereum wallet, which has been available on other desktop/mobile platforms since February, declined to comment on Apple’s policies. Jaxx’s homepage, however, still shows an iOS version in beta testing and scheduled for imminent release.
At press time, Apple PR had not responded to Bitcoin.com’s email or phone requests for further clarification.
Apple Cautious with Cryptocurrency
Apple is notoriously secretive about its intentions and reasoning behind policies, and generally does not provide information on specific cases or examples. Nor does it allow registered developers to reveal any information on said policies, and could potentially revoke developer credentials if this happened.
Regarding cryptocurrency wallets, however, Section 11.17 of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines states:
Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions.
Policy Overturned for Bitcoin wallets
Apple had previously banned all apps that transmitted “virtual currency,” including bitcoin. This forced most developers to focus on Android and resulted in more sophisticated Bitcoin apps for that platform, including Bitcoin Wallet, Electrum and Mycelium.
The company reviewed its guidelines and added Bitcoin as an approved virtual currency in June 2014, resulting in a flurry of new iOS wallet apps such as Bread wallet and Blockchain.
Developer Christian Moss, whose company MandelDuck created the Bitcoin-based game SaruTobi and light wallet Bity, said he had spoken several times to Apple directly regarding their concerns. Though also declining to comment on the Ethereum situation, he said:
I think Apple just want to make sure they comply with local laws and keep the users’ safety a priority, however I fear this cautious approach could damage iOS development. At MandelDuck we are now developing for Android as a priority directly due to Apple’s restrictive policy.
iOS Ban Could Affect Ethereum Growth
It’s possible Apple is simply taking a cautious, “wait and see” approach to Ethereum and ETH transmission, and iOS wallets will be approved in due time. Just as once-banned Bitcoin wallets are now commonplace, so too could ETH versions if there is enough public demand.
Also, while ETH is popular with price speculators and is a trading currency on exchanges like Kraken, Gatecoin and (in the near future) Coinbase, it has only been used sparsely in actual commerce and for making purchases.
This could be due to its unproven nature as a technology (at least compared to Bitcoin) but it could also be due to lack of easy-to-use wallet options. If Apple’s rumored ban is indeed real, this could slow public acceptance. It could also drive more developers, like Moss, toward Android.
On the other hand, any sign from Apple that ETH is an “approved” currency will likely see its popularity increase and interest in the wider Ethereum platform’s more advanced features could continue to grow.
Is Apple’s approval necessary for Ethereum to grow? Should ETH even be used as a commercial currency the way Bitcoin is? Leave your comments below.
Images courtesy of ibtimes.co.uk, mandelduck.com