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Apple’s App Store Threatens Crypto Innovation, Say US Lawmakers

2 mins
Updated by Bary Rahma
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In Brief

  • Members of the US congress are probing Apple's over claims its App Store policy hurts Web3 developers.
  • In a letter to the company's CEO Tim Cook, lawmakers highlighted app maker's allegations that Apple abuses its market dominance.
  • App developers including Axie and Coinbase are among those that object to the App Store guidelines.
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United States House Representatives Gus Bilirakis and Jan Schakowsky have expressed concerns that Apple’s App Store policies might hinder the growth of the cryptocurrency sector.

In a letter addressed to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, the representatives warned that the company’s current guidelines could potentially undercut US leadership in emerging technologies, such as blockchains, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and other forms of distributed ledger technology.

Allegations of Market Manipulation?

Bilirakis and Schakowsky, respectively, serve as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the bipartisan House Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce. They suggested that Apple might leverage its App Store rules for undue competitive advantage.

A key issue underscored in the letter is the challenge faced by Web3 games and app developers, many of whom monetize through cryptocurrency integrations and NFT sales.

Apple's App Store Fees
Apple’s App Store Fees. Source: Statista

Given the vast user base of iOS, having their apps on the App Store is vital. However, the lawmakers drew attention to Apple’s policy which mandates a 30% commission on gas fees tied to NFT transactions.

Tech Giants in Hot Water Over NFT Policies

The representatives highlighted the discontent expressed by companies like Coinbase and Axie Infinity. Due to Apple’s policies, Coinbase suspended NFT transfers for its iOS wallet users in the past year.

Axie Infinity, on the other hand, had to scale back NFT functionalities on its iOS version to align with Apple’s guidelines, limiting the game’s full experience for iOS users.

Read more: NFT Trading in Apple App Store: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

NFT Sales Worldwide
NFT Sales Worldwide. Source: Statista

The letter pointedly states that many perceive Apple’s use of the App Store policies as a tool against its competitors. It also underscores allegations of Apple imposing inconsistent restrictions and often hindering app enhancements that would benefit users.

In pursuit of clarity, lawmakers have sought additional details from Apple regarding its App Store policies and their enforcement. They’ve also inquired about the company’s app review mechanisms.

Apple has been given a deadline of August 14 to respond.

Apple’s Evolving Web3 App Policies

Apple’s relationship with blockchain-related apps has seen shifts over time.

The App Store’s inclusion of Axie Infinity in May was a significant milestone, especially considering Apple’s prior reservations about hosting Web3 applications for iOS.

Leading GameFi Platforms
Leading GameFi Platforms. Source: Statista

Previously, iOS users had to link a cryptocurrency wallet to acquire in-app NFTs. Now, they can use Apple Pay through their regular credit or debit cards.

While Apple seems to be warming up to Web3 applications, critics remain concerned about the tech giant’s overall impact on the cryptocurrency industry.

Top crypto platforms in the US | March 2024

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James Morales
James is a London-based editor, writer and explorer of the cryptosphere who started his journalistic career writing about digital art before honing his craft as a financial technology reporter. From the latest innovation in digital assets to the evolution of Web3, he is perpetually fascinated by the technologies of decentralization.
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