Apple restricts use of NFTs to unlock content, features in apps
by James · November 30, 2022
Apple has formalized its controversial stance on NFTs.
The tech giant published updates to the App Store Review Guidelines on Monday with new language around NFTs, according to Apple Insider. Briefly summarized, NFTs are allowed to exist in apps on the App Store – but they cannot unlock additional features or content.
“Apps may use in-app purchases to sell and sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing and transfer,” the new guidelines state. “Apps may allow users to view their own NFTs, provided that NFT ownership does not unlock features or functionality within the app.”
In accordance with Apple’s long-standing policy regarding paid unlocking of digital goods and services, NFTs purchased through Apple’s in-app purchases can be used for token-gated tools. But they are subject to Apple’s 30% fee.
This may actually discourage application developers from supporting in-app purchases of NFTs. Still, a main use case for NFTs is that they can be used to unlock token-gated content. For example Moonbirds NFTs and Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs offer holders exclusive access to various communication channels, goods and other such benefits.
In addition, developers are not allowed to create “buttons, external links or other calls to action” that may tell users how to bypass the App Store to purchase NFTs through other platforms. Instead, the App Store wants users to make in-app purchases.
And paying in crypto is not an option.
The App Store Review Guidelines are important because they tell developers what they can and cannot publish to the App Store. Violation of such guidelines may result in app rejection or removal.
This latest update confirming the in-app purchase requirements makes sense, as the tech press recently reported that Apple would be taking its sharp cut in NFT sales.
A month ago, the rumors about the 30% NFT fee disappointed Epic Games CEO and crypto supporter Tim Sweeney, who said Apple “must be stopped” because the move “crushed another new technology to compete with the grotesquely overpriced in-app payment service.”
Beyond just NFTs, Apple has also revised some of its language around cryptocurrency exchange apps listed on the App Store.
“Apps may facilitate transactions or transfers of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are only offered in countries or regions where the app has the appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange,” the guidelines state.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that NFTs can be used to unlock features and content if purchased through Apple’s in-app purchase framework.