Apple allows in-app NFTs in the App Store, but waives the 30% fee on transactions
Apple will allow non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to be purchased inside apps designed for its mobile devices, but the company will take the usual 30% cut of such transactions, limiting its appeal to users such as gamers.
The company’s latest update to its App Store policies included explicit restrictions on buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies and NFTs in apps, much to its concern of blockchain enthusiasts who say this will reduce the appeal of the technology to new users.
The rules released on Monday night cover cryptocurrency and NFT trading. The revised guidelines allow apps to “facilitate the transaction or transfer of cryptocurrency” on approved exchanges that comply with local laws.
Although a number of wallets for decentralized apps and tokens, including popular MetaMask, already accept Apple
“Apps cannot use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, cryptocurrencies, and cryptocurrency wallets,” states revised guideline 3.1.1. So while users can buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies and tokens, they still can’t use them for in-app payments. This will perhaps have the biggest impact on play-to-earn programs, where users complete tasks in apps to earn cryptocurrencies or tokens that can then be traded on real-world exchanges.
In-app NFT purchases are also now allowed as long as they “do not unlock in-app features or functionality”, effectively taking away the benefits of utility-based tokens such as in-game NFTs, which symbolize in-game rewards, say a special sword or a magic lantern , and can then be traded on various exchanges. While users can now view and display their NFTs within the applications, they cannot connect directly to external transactions.
These restrictions, including the 30% tax and only allowing in-app purchases, are contested by developers and digital rights groups who claims that Apple is an anti-competitive monopoly. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite that has been dabbling in blockchain-based games this year, sued Apple in federal court last year over its fees. The judge ruled in favor of Epic on one of 10 counts, asking Apple to allow apps, especially games, to connect to alternative payment methods. Both companies have appealed.
This is largely a continuation of the so-called walled-garden approach to social media on Apple’s part. The Cupertino, California-based company rarely, unless dictated by law, allows payments through third-party, non-Apple operating systems.
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