Apple ad for ‘alternative payments’ job signals cryptocurrency interest

Apple has hinted at a growing interest in cryptocurrency, as it seeks new talent for its payments division.

The iPhone maker is recruiting a business development manager for “alternative payments”, including cryptocurrencies, according to a job ad posted this week.

The incomer, who will sit in the same team as Apple Pay and the iPhone’s Wallet app at its Cupertino headquarters, is charged with striking new alliances with “strategic alternative payment partners”.

Required qualifications according to the ad include several years’ experience in cryptocurrency, as well as other fast-growing forms of payment such as “buy now, pay later” services.

The prospective hire comes as Apple begins to quietly prepare support for making payments using bitcoin through its Wallet app, the iPhone’s central repository for digital cards, tickets and vouchers.

The App Store listing for Coinbase, one of the largest crypto exchanges, shows that it now supports Apple Wallet, though no details have yet been revealed on how the integration will work.

Coinbase’s website says only that it “does not currently support Apple Pay, but we hope to bring a faster, safer way to spend cryptocurrency to iOS users soon”.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the recruitment ad, which was first reported by Coindesk. Coinbase did not comment on its plans for Apple Wallet integration.

Crypto enthusiasts quickly seized on the job posting as a sign that Silicon Valley’s most valuable company was preparing a deeper move into payments through bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets said in a research note in February that Apple had a “clear opportunity” in crypto, by making it easier and more secure for individuals to buy and sell digital assets. The company has extensive experience in payments through Apple Pay, launched in 2014, and its own-branded credit card, which debuted in 2019.

Jennifer Bailey, who leads Apple Pay, said two years ago that the iPhone maker was “watching” cryptocurrency. “We think it has interesting long-term potential,” Bailey was reported as saying at a CNN event.

But Apple has been criticised in the past — including by Coinbase’s chief executive — for its refusal to support bitcoin and other forms of alternative payments in Apple Pay and through the App Store.

In 2013, it banned crypto wallets from the iPhone, throwing Coinbase and several similar apps off its App Store, though it later relented on the policy.

Epic Games, which has taken Apple to court over what it argues is its monopolistic control over the App Store, argued in its lawsuit that Apple’s “anti-competitive conduct eliminates all of these innovations and alternative payment options”, such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

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