Google has previously rejected or removed any apps that facilitated the movement of virtual currencies like bitcoin

Apple could soon accept Bitcoin payments in apps

A change to Apple’s app policy could see payments using virtual currencies like Bitcoin approved for the first time.

Until now, the US technology giant has rejected or removed any apps that facilitated the movement of virtual currency, but an update to the App Store Review Guidelines may be the first indication of a change of heart.

The updated version of the guidelines now say: "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."

Experts believe that this will soon mean Bitcoin could be stored in-app for downloads from the Apple App Store as it is the most popular form of the currency. Google's platform Android already accepts the digital money.

Jay Karsandas, digital manager at Mobiles.co.uk, said: "The action that Apple has taken in allowing apps to transmit approved virtual currencies seems like the next natural step in adapting to the ever-growing prominence of cyber-cash systems, such as bitcoin.

"We are doubtful that Apple will open the door to Bitcoin mining or significant sums passing through apps; more likely this will be an opportunity for iOS devices to act as bitcoin wallets for use in online purchases, similar to what the Google Play store already offers."

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin are built around shared software, with users carrying out transactions directly with one another without having to go through a bank or other third party.

The value of Bitcoin has been steadily increasing, with the value of single coins briefly surpassing £1,000 last year. It is one of a growing number of virtual currencies that are starting to circulate online.

The news comes as Apple is hosting its annual developers' conference, WWDC, in San Francisco, and has announced a host of updates to its mobile and desktop operating systems, including a new piece of software called HomeKit that will enable users to control lighting, heating and other appliances in their home via their iOS device.

Apple is yet to comment on the update to the policy.

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