Google Play Store Removes Some Cryptocurrency Wallets
Android users searching for a cryptocurrency wallet in the Google Play store yesterday may have been out of luck. According to The Next Web, at least three crypto wallets were removed from the app marketplace overnight, including Bitcoin Wallet, CoPay, and BitPay. However it appears that at least Bitcoin Wallet has made it back to the Play Store at this time. TNW notes that both CoPay and BitPay have been downloaded more than 100,000 times each while Bitcoin Wallet has more than one million users.
While Google hasn’t commented on why the apps were removed, Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com (which manages Bitcoin Wallet), theorizes that it was related to Google’s ban on cryptocurrency mining apps. Of course, this would suggest that their removal was by mistake as none of the wallets in question offer mining capabilities. Writing on Reddit, Ver explained, “Google told us that it was because they no longer allow cryptocurrency [sic] mining apps. I have no idea how they came under the impression that our wallet is a mining app.”
Regardless of whether the removal of these apps was intentional or not, the incident does highlight the complicated relationship Google has had with cryptocurrencies. For example, before banning cryptocurrency mining apps from their Play store, Google updated their policies to disallow many crypto-related ads on their platforms. At the time Google’s director of sustainable ads Scott Spencer told CNBC, “We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.” Incidentally that crackdown came after Facebook made a similar move, which the social network mostly reversed this summer (although they still don’t allow ads for initial coin offerings or binary options).
In all likelihood, the banning of these wallets was probably an error. Still the fact that such a mixup was possible demonstrates the level of confusion and even mistrust that exists regarding cryptocurrency products despite the space making headway into the mainstream. Ironically, were Google, Apple, and other trusted app marketplaces to actually ban crypto wallets and the like, it would surely lead to more cryptocurrency consumer problems as users would not be afforded that same protection from malware that comes when downloading from app stores. Hopefully this incident turns out to be a small hiccup and something that can be resolved quickly, however it seems like it may be a longer and rougher road to cryptocurrency acceptance than some may have envisioned.