faced down the challenge of the Beatles franchise when it began selling music in 2003. From Bloomberg:
While Apple didn’t mention bitcoin specifically, its developer terms now allow for certain “approved virtual currencies,” without saying what those were. Apps that use the digital money must comply with state and federal laws wherever they’re designed to work, the terms say.Unlike the Bitcoin fanboys, I's be especially wary about the proviso that these virtual currencies would only be permitted to ply their trade on Apple devices if they complied with state and federal laws. Again, this is murky legal territory that may allow Apple to (again) suspend their operations should they run into legal entanglements. Also keep in mind that this is a very limited Amerocentric framing: aren't virtual currencies also used internationally to transfer money and settle transactions?
The change signals that Apple is warming up to virtual currencies after previously blocking programs like Blockchain.info from its App Store. Bitcoin is the most popular digital currencies, which governments are struggling to determine how to regulate because they exist only as software. “This is a sign that the ecosystem is maturing and gaining credibility,” Bill Lee, an investor in bitcoin wallet BitGo, said in an e-mail. “To be clear, I still think bitcoin is in its infancy as a technology, but its acceptance is becoming more and more mainstream.”
Bitcoin entrepreneurs were already predicting an explosion of activity. “Get ready for a plethora of bitcoin iOS apps!” bitcoin venture capitalist Adam Draper said in an e-mail. “Very exciting news!”
My guess is that the legal issues that need to be hammered out will be international to meet anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance (AML-CTF) that were put into place largely at the American's behest after the September 11 attacks. If you are interested in the technical details of AML-CTF compliance, CGAP wrote a paper in the similar context of mobile wallets sometime back. These problems are not insurmountable, however. The Bitcoin fanboys may not have sufficient clout to sort out the legal aspects of virtual currencies, but Apple with its hundreds of billions in cash sitting around certainly can. AS I said, 'Applecoin' has potential, not necessarily Bitcoin.
BTW, the app store review guideline in question is 11.17 under 'Purchasing and currencies':
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