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Apple’s New Rules Implement NFT “Tax”

In recent NFT news, Apple updated its App Store policies to allow users to view their NFTs but prohibit them from using them to unlock additional “features or functionality”. 

According to the update, apps may not contain buttons, external links, or other features that direct users to purchase outside the Apple App Store. This means that Apple will allow Web3 startups to sell NFTs directly if they agree to enable the use using Apple Pay. However, Apple charges up to 30% commission on NFT transactions made within the iOS ecosystem.

The new guidelines read, “Apps may use in-app purchase to sell and sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing, and transferring. Apps may allow users to view their own NFTs, provided that NFT ownership does not unlock features or functionality within the app.”

Apple Accused Of Being Anticompetitive

Apple’s heavy-handed attack on NFT and its plan to levy a 30% fee may seem to give NFT a “legal existence” in the iOS ecosystem. 

An Apple spokesperson stated, “For many years now, the App Store guidelines have been clear that the sale of digital goods and services within an app must use In-App Purchase. Boosting, which allows an individual or organisation to pay to increase the reach of a post or profile, is a digital service — so of course, In-App Purchase is required. This has always been the case and there are many examples of apps that do it successfully.”

OpenSea and other NFT trading platforms have long existed in many countries’ App Stores. Several trading platforms, such as FTX and other exchanges, are directly in the iOS platform to start financial activities.

After this policy update, NFT can be minted, sold, and displayed within the iOS ecosystem, but only through in-app purchases. To be precise, Apple still views NFT as a commodity similar to in-game props rather than a unique user’s on-chain credentials.

It is still unclear how such in-app purchases will be implemented, and it is speculated that there may be two ways. Either using fiat currency to purchase cryptocurrency, which would then be used to pay gas fees, or buying NFTs directly using fiat currency and then splitting the user profits between Apple and the app.

If it is the first one, it still maintains a small amount of blockchain decentralization. If it is the second one, it has little to do with blockchain and is closer to the operation of domestic digital collections.

As of now, Apple still sees NFT as a source that can contribute profits, rather than wholeheartedly embracing blockchain technology and decentralization concepts, and does not want to share profits with applications, let alone give back to users.

Previous Issues With Apple’s 30% Tax

Apple tax has been the topic of controversy. In 2020, Apple App Store took down the popular game “Fortnite” developed by Epic Games from the app store. The two companies ended up in court, with Apple’s main point of accusation being that Epic’s in-app purchase model was against Apple’s policy.

Nevertheless, Epic would not give in to Apple’s tax, which led to the withdrawal of its most popular fame from the iOS ecosystem. 

Just last week, Cary’s Epic Games resumed its two-year battle with the California tech giant, with Epic Games accusing Apple of illegally holding a monopoly. 


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