Leading crypto exchange Coinbase has accused Apple of forcing it to remove NFT transfers from its Wallet app on iOS. Coinbase tweeted that Apple blocked its last app release until it disabled the feature. It also said that Apple claimed that gas fees required to send NFT must be paid through their in-app purchases,in order to ensure that Apple could collect the 30 per cent commission of the gas fee.
For the uninitiated, gas fees are blockchain fees associated with NFT transfers. On blockchains like Ethereum, which many NFT projects use, any transaction will incur a fee, which benefits the people who validate it. The fees are usually collected in crypto currencies such as ETH and is valid even if someone sends an NFT for free.
According to Coinbase, it was not possible to ensure that gas fees are paid though in-app purchase because of multiple reasons including the fact that Apple’s systems did not support payment in crypto. Coinbase also said it was akin to Apple trying to take a cut out of fees for every email that gets sent over open Internet protocols.
Incidentally, no part of the gas fee goes to Coinbase or to the person receiving the NFT. The fee also changes from moment to moment, based on a variety of factors such as the price of the crypto currency or the number of people trying to get the transactions validated. Apple’s in-app purchase system is not even set up to handle such dynamic factors, according to Coinbase.
As Apple updated its App Store review guidelines in October, the iPhone maker informed Coinbase that it could no longer use the NFT transfer protocol in its existing form. In October, Apple updated its App Store review guidelines to specifically address NFT, in which it said that apps may use in-app purchase system to sell services related to NFT such as minting, listing and transferring.
Apple has also said that apps may allow users to view their own NFT, provided that NFT ownership did not unlock features or functionality within the app. The features and functionalities may include buttons, external links, or other call-to-action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchases. In-app purchases ensure that Apple get a 30 per cent commission from every transaction.
Coinbase said Apple has introduced new policies to protect their profits at the expense of consumer investment in NFT and developer innovation across the crypto ecosystem. It hoped it was an oversight on Apple’s behalf and an inflection point for further conversation with the ecosystem. However, those conversations might be a bit tensed after its CEO tweeted that the App Store was a monopoly and that some of Coinbase’s conversations with Apple “have been absurd”.
The crypto exchange also said the biggest impact of the latest policy change from Apple would be on iPhone users who own NFT, as Apple made it a lot difficult to transfer NFT to other wallets or gift it to friends and family.