Industry News Apple App Store Removals Create Controversy in the Blockchain Community

Apple App Store Removals Create Controversy in the Blockchain Community

September 13, 2016

app-store-iconIt seems that Apple is becoming more aggressive in its approach to digital currency apps. Recently, the company has decided to restrict two apps on their online store that operate in the domain of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. Both situations did not come along with an official statement, which has fueled speculation about its ultimate purpose.

The problem came about from the Apple’s list of approved cryptocurrencies that dates back to 2014 when its current policy was established. This policy disclosed how the company planned to work with (or not work) certain digital currencies, but it has drawn a lot of negative comments from the blockchain community since then. The latest news does not help the relationship between them and the Cupertino Company.

When the list came about two years ago, many saw it as a progressive stance by the tech giant, but since then, the mood has changed significantly because several startups got a very rough treatment by Apple. Jaxx, a wallet for digital currency and a digital currency exchange ShapeShift both had their iOS apps pulled from the marketplace thanks to an internal Apple request. Apple has since explained that it asked from Jaxx to remove dash, a specific cryptocurrency from its supported list because it was not on the Apple list, which holds only litecoin, bitcoin, and ether.

Jaxx agreed to remove dash later in the month of September and it has been revealed that Apple declined to allow it to include ethereum classic on its offer. ShapeShift was pulled from the store in the same period, which the company itself made public and confirmed on its social media profiles. Like Jaxx, they too got in trouble because of their list of the digital currencies they use in their app.

Specifically, they provide an opportunity to exchange blockchain-based tokens that are not approved for other services. Now, the company is looking to get back to the App Store offer. It appears now that providers of any blockchain related financial services will have to expect similar problems when they upload their app to the marketplace.

The Apple List

As the two companies managed to figure out, Apple list covers ripple, bitcoin, dogecoin, litecoin and ethereum, along with tokens from the DAO project which is now basically defunct. But, the company has still to officially publish this list or provide any comment on the issue of the app removal.

There are rumors that other digital currencies and cryptocurrencies are also allowed by the company, but this is also unofficial information. It looks like that Apple is, for now, keeping quiet and taking action. The same position was heavily criticized by both ShapeShift and Jaxx for its lack of transparency. In fact, CEO of Jaxx Anthony Di Iorio said that they just want for Apple to make their stance clear to the app developers.

This way, Di lorio believes they will end the speculations that are currently worrying the blockchain community. At the same time, he believes that Apple might have legitimate reasons to want to place restrictions on a particular digital currency, but others disagree.

Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift believes that Apple is making these moves basically on a whim. He said that he would advise the company not to pick digital currencies from their users because they do not tell them which sites to visit or what music should they download and listen.

These statements show that the blockchain community harbors deep division and that the same development space is gradually moving towards many different digital currencies and financial assets. But, others openly speculate how mature are many of these projects and is there enough protection in place against scams and unproven currencies being held up with assets like bitcoin.

Issues from 2014

Two years ago, Apple has similar issues with bitcoin users when it removed a Blockchain app that provided a digital wallet for the same cryptocurrency. This came some months after Apple also pulled CoinBase from their store. At that time, the blockchain community saw this as a move to protect the company’s own payment app, Apple Pay.

The same confrontation soon became ugly as the anger of the blockchain users and developers grow. Even at that time, many individual users were employing BTC to bet online, purchase goods and services and do many additional things.

Finally, the standoff ended with Apple allowing bitcoin wallets and other bitcoin-based apps onto its marketplace. Just 30 days later Blockchain’s wallet came back to the App store and since then, several additional ones followed it. But, the road continued to be bumpy even after that. In 2015, a messaging app by the name of Wiper was taken from App store in China because it provided a level of bitcoin integration.

Apple Move

As of now, Apple still did not update its policies on digital currencies from 2014, at least not publicly. Jim Harper, who is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, believes that the company might be responding to pressure and unclear direction from the regulatory bodies. The other possibility is that they are doing a really bad job at defining its own policy towards the changing blockchain development space.

As it is the case with online gaming, eSports, social media and other similar ventures, Apple just might be trying to protect its users from a changing landscape that could include potential dangers to them. At the same time, as Harper pointed out, the events could just be showcasing the company’s own bureaucracy structures trying to figure out how to approach these issues in a process that is sometimes messy.

For many, the issue is another reminder that Apple remains in the ultimate control over apps sold on its platform, regardless of its position towards certain digital currencies. This means that the developers will always have a gatekeeper that has its own policies and applies them at their own discretion. Because of this, some are pointing out that there are other alternatives for distributing end-user applications of a certain blockchain.

Through the use of the internet and native distribution platforms like simple company websites, the same issue can be circumvented. As Apple remains silent on this problem, there is little doubt that many developers are thinking about becoming their own distributors when it comes to any blockchain app they might be developing.

Source: CoinDesk