Tim Cook speaks out on Apple Pay and Bitcoin support

Apple on crypto
Apple has never been one to get too close for comfort to cryptocurrency, and even as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin and all the rest became all the rage over the last few years, Apple has consistently shied away from having anything to do with them, whether by way of company investments or payment service integration.

With Apple Pay competing up there with Google Pay for a while now, already one of the biggest digital wallet apps used globally, the question of why Apple Pay still doesn't feature support for cryptocurrencies has often been thrown around—be it for purchasing them through the app, or simply for using them to make purchases.

Although Apple did finally partner with Coinbase in June this year to begin supporting crypto users' Coinbase cards for making mobile payments, that's about as deep as Apple has been willing to dip its toes into crypto. 

In a recent interview at The New York Times DealBook Summit, Apple CEO Tm Cook finally bit the bullet and spoke out on some of the company's views on cryptocurrency, although he didn't go into too much detail as to the actual reason the company never involved itself in the market or provided digital wallet support, even as Bitcoin and other currencies boomed.

"It's something that we're looking at, it's not something we have immediate plans to do," Cook said. This echoes Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey's mild statements in 2019 that Apple was watching the cryptocurrency space, but is in no rush to enter it just yet.

Tim Cook himself may invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn't mean Apple will

Cook also insists that his personal views on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency do not influence the decisions he makes for the company's cash hoard. He says that while he does own Bitcoin himself, he doesn't believe putting Apple's funds into crypto would go over well with Apple stock investors, as it would add an additional factor of volatility to stock prices. 

"I wouldn't go invest [our cash balance] in crypto, not because I wouldn't invest my own money in crypto, but because I don't think people buy an Apple stock to get exposure to crypto," Cook said. If they want to do that, they can invest directly in crypto through other means."

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"And I'm not planning, Cook adds, "in the near future, to take crypto for our products, as a means of tender. But there are other things that we are definitely looking at." When prodded by the interviewer, Cook refrained from giving any further details, saying that the company isn't quite ready to announce anything yet. 

The Apple CEO himself does like to dabble in the Bitcoin market, however, and he admitted his interest in it has led to his making some investments. "I think it's reasonable to own as a part of a diversified portfolio," Cook said, quickly adding that he isn't trying to give anyone investment advice—only sharing his personal views.

While on the topic of crypto, the New York Times interviewer also questioned Cook about his view on NFT's (or non-fungible tokens), which he said he views as "interesting," although "it will take a while to play out in a way that is for the mainstream person." That was about the extent of what we learned from Cook on the topic of crypto and digital payments from the diverse interview, which you can watch on YouTube.

Unlike Apple Pay, other digital wallets have already begun accepting crypto

PayPal, one of Apple Pay's top competitors, has already integrated the direct use of cryptocurrency on the platform, allowing PayPal users to buy, sell, and manage, their digital currency hoards. Another rival, albeit less mainstream, is Square—which has similarly adopted the ability to directly handle crypto within the Square app. And as noted by Apple Insider, Stripe is another digital wallet service that is currently working on re-integrating support for digital currency.

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