Apple’s iPhone Used As Hard International Currency


The idea that Apple products, specifically the iPhone, may be considered as a form of hard currency in themselves is the premise of a recent post by reporter Vernon Silver of Bloomberg News.

Silver claims that in recent months he has been using unlocked iPhones to pay his bills.

“It started by accident in December, during a business trip to New York. I live in Rome, where domestic work comes cheap and technology is expensive. An unlocked, gold, 32-gigabyte iPhone 5s that costs about $815 with tax in the U.S. goes for €839 (about $1,130) in Italy, roughly a month’s wages for workers who do laundry, pick up kids from school, or provide care for the elderly. When one worker heard I was visiting the States, she asked me to pick her up an iPhone in lieu of the equivalent cash for work she’d done.”

From that point on, Silver began to use the international prices of the iPhone to pay for services, using the hardware as currency. He says:

“I no longer thought of the phones inside as appliances. They were more like gold bars. They were more like gold bars”

According to a list of iPhone prices by Stanmere, the cheapest iPhone 5S can be purchased in the U.S. for about $700. On the other hand, to purchase the same phone in Brazil requires around $1,200. Here is the list of the top 10 out of the 48 countries compiled by Stanmere:


Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, hinted that cross-boarder movement of iPhones is very important to the company’s bottom line.

The idea that luxury goods, like the iPhone, adopting the form of currency around the globe is nothing new. Just a few years ago Louis Vuitton bags were sold in Asia for inflated prices. The fact that the iPhone 5S is one of the most desired objects today (until the next iPhone is released), says a lot about what the world thinks of a company like Apple.