Apple app store bars cryptocurrency mining and related apps

Posted: 14 June 2018 6:30 pm
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Apple has updated its crypto commandments, with a few rough edges.

Apple has updated its app developer terms and conditions to crack down on some of the less desirable elements of cryptocurrency, including mining on Apple devices and rewarding users for completing tasks such as posting to social media.

The updates include a sharp 180 on previous rules which allowed apps to mine cryptocurrency, with the user's permission, in lieu of showing them ads.

Thou shalt not...

"Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining" the Terms and Conditions read, as part of its instructions on designing energy efficient apps.

This commandment is mostly targeted at developers hoping to turn a quick buck by creating a system that uses a user's device to mine cryptocurrency in the background as they use the app, and is probably good news for anyone who doesn't want to unknowingly drain or fry their phone mining on someone else's behalf. Mining apps are only allowed when the mining itself is performed off the device, such as through cloud mining.

For cryptocurrency in particular, Apple offers a more specific set of instructions.

Cryptocurrency wallet apps are only allowed when they are offered by developers enrolled as an organisation. This might rule out some of the individual developers, but might also add a much-needed level of security by reputability to app store wallets.

Somewhat more vaguely, it also offers instructions for "apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs"), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading". It instructs that these services must only come from established and approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable laws. It seems clearly designed to immediately weed out some of the more blatant scam apps, but might pose a headache for ICO-related apps which don't guarantee that every single ICO mentioned is legitimate, or the systems that are deliberately designed to interact with illegal ICOs for the purpose of warning users.

It also warns against crypto rewards.

"Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc."

It's a sensible precaution, given the ease of creating a cryptocurrency to reward users with fake money to encourage them to download or advertise one's app. But it might also create some grey areas around legitimate cryptocurrency rewards, such as those used by Coinbase's acquisition to encourage users to respond to email surveys.

Many of these rules might also create some friction with games in the app store. Profit-sharing with users is an increasingly common and remarkably successful element of cryptocurrency, and cryptocurrency mining in itself is also an increasingly grey area with some games aiming to incorporate it in a friendly non-battery-killing way.

Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, NANO

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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