During its recent Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple quietly slipped some language into the App Store review guidelines that prevent anyone from using iPhones and iPads to mine cryptocurrency. Spotted by AppleInsider, the new rules say that “apps, including any third part advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.” The rules appear to be an attempt to nip any kind of “crypto-jacking,” an increasingly common scam that hijacks a small portion of a users’ device to mine cryptocurrency without them realizing.
In perhaps somewhat related news, Bitcoin (and most other cryptocurrencies) have fallen nearly 8% in value over the last day, following the hack of South Korean crypto exchange Coinrail over the weekend. Bitcoin is now sitting at around $6,750, while the global crypto market lost an estimated $42 billion in value as a result of the hack. News about Apple’s changes to the App Store aren’t likely to play particularly well.
Apple’s ban on mining is part of a new and improved set of rules on how cryptocurrencies can exist on the App Store:
- (i) Wallets: Apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization.
- (ii) Mining: Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).
- (iii) Exchanges: Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself.
- (iv) Initial Coin Offerings: Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.
- (v) Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.
Some of this will actually be good news for crypto investors. Exchanges can offer fully-featured apps offering trading abilities, as long as the apps are issued by the exchanges themselves and not third parties. Crypto wallets are also now officially legal, settling a gray area that has existed for months.