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Anger as Apple quietly removes Bitcoin app Blockchain from App Store

Apple this week yanked a Bitcoin app from its App Store, prompting an angry reaction from the developer, who accused the Cupertino firm of trying to squash a "revolutionary new payment system."

Blockchain was removed without warning on 5 February due to an "unresolved issue," Blockchain said in a blog post. Apple typically doesn't discuss why it removes apps from its App Store, but Blockchain said its policies are "clearly focused on preserving Apple's monopoly on payments rather than based on any consideration of the needs and desires of their users."

The move is mystifying, Blockchain said, because its app has been in the App Store without incident for two years and secured more than 120,000 downloads.

"The only thing that has changed is that bitcoin has become competitive to Apple's own payment system," Blockchain said. "By removing the blockchain app, the only bitcoin wallet application on the App store, Apple has eliminated competition using their monopolistic position in the market in a heavy handed manner."

Late last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was looking to expand its mobile-payment presence and let customers pay for physical goods and services with their mobile devices rather than just software like apps, movies, and music.

During a 27 January earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was "intrigued" by mobile payments and sees a "big opportunity" for it on iOS, but had nothing to share about Apple's plans.

Blockchain is still available on Google Play, and is described as "a bitcoin wallet which combines the ease of use of an online wallet service with the security of a desktop client. You to retain full control of your bitcoins while at the same time able to access them on any device."

Blockchain is urging supporters to sign a petition that calls on Apple to allow Bitcoin wallets on iPhone. "We need a mobile Bitcoin client, and if Apple won't deliver one, we'll move to Android," the petition reads.

Bitcoin, a virtual currency, has prompted interest from early adopters, but there are concerns about security. Last month, the CEO of a Bitcoin exchange and a Bitcoin exchanger were arrested for their alleged involvement in the black market Internet site Silk Road, which used Bitcoin to cover its tracks.