My Take

Apple seeks a piece of the bitcoin frenzy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 4:41am

Apple wants a piece of the bitcoin frenzy, and the virtual currency community is angry.

I mean, how dare Apple jump on the bitcoin bandwagon created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.

The simple fact is the bitcoin community fears Apple will make it obsolete.

Honestly, Apple can pour money into projects and do them in a safer, bigger and better way.

Apple filed a patent in the United States in January for a digital wallet system that is a "method to send payment data through various air interfaces without compromising user data". This filing occurred days before it removed the last-remaining digital wallet application (that digitally sends payments instantly) without warning. This salvo is seen in the eyes of the company Blockchain, which made the app, as a "threat" to Apple's plans.

Let's compare: Apple, a multi-billion dollar tech giant, hugely successful at creating technology that works. It has an unblemished reputation and a strong track record and popularity. On the other hand, few trust bitcoin since in a short lifespan it has been tainted by multiple security breaches.

More than a billion dollars has been stolen from thousands of victims in opportunistic heists, notably from the bankrupt Mt Gox. Despite warnings not to dabble in bitcoin, the little guy has been robbed, no thanks in part to the poor protection the bitcoin community has offered.

The soaring value of bitcoin has made it an easy hacking target. From being worth US$1,220 on Mt Gox, in a matter of a month it crashed to just US$90. Reliable exchanges currently offer prices of US$630 a coin.

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower," the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said. It is not necessarily about being first with an idea but enhancing it.

Bitcoin developers created the digital wallet, a nifty function that can send money around the world at an instant without expensive fees, middlemen or long transfer times.

So it's possible for Apple to make this for real-world currencies, which means that virtual currencies may not play the role they once dreamed of.