Apple clarified its rules on cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) laying out what apps are allowed to do with these technologies.
On crypto exchanges, Apple said in updated App Store rules on Monday, that apps may facilitate “transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange.” But the app can only be offered in countries or regions where it has licensing and permission to operate a crypto exchange.
“Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality,” such as cryptocurrencies or cryptocurrency wallets.
Apple has clarified the rules on NFTs, which can be a digital representation of a real-life asset such as artwork and are usually purchased using cryptocurrency.
The guidelines say apps may use in-app purchases to sell NFTs and sell services related to them, such as minting, listing, and the transferring of these tokens. Apps can also allow users to browse NFT collections owned by others so long as the apps do “not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.”
All of this means that any sort of trading service for NFTs must use Apple’s in-app payment mechanism. Apple takes an up to 30% cut of in-app payments. While this does not ban NFTs in any way, it does put a major restriction on the kind of services that can be offered involving NFTs, given the 30% slice Apple takes.
Users can view the NFTs they own within an app provided the token does not “unlock features or functionality within the app.” Users often buy NFTs as a way to access exclusive parts of a service or even as a sort of membership card for an app. But Apple is saying some of this will not be allowed.
Apple’s 30% cut has long been criticized by app makers who accuse the technology giant of running a monopoly over in-app purchases. Apple argues that control over the App Store allows it to ensure the security of apps and payments. It has also said that the App Store has birthed a successful app ecosystem allowing developers to make money.
The 30% cut was the subject of a high-profile lawsuit between Fortnite developer Epic Games and Apple.
Cryptocurrencies have had a volatile and rough year, with the whole market losing around $2 trillion since its peak in November.