Like other major cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase offers users its own e-wallet app through which they can manage their funds holdings and conduct blockchain transactions.
Problems arose after the company added a feature to its Coinbase Wallet app called NFT transfer to go, Apple blocking publication of the latest version of the app in the AppStore catalog. Asked for clarification, Apple representatives responded by labelling the new feature an in-app payment scheme, demanding a 30% commission on NFT transfers made in this way.
Rejecting Apple’s request, Coinbase argues that such a fee is unjustified and in any case, unenforceable, as Apple’s payment system is not compatible with cryptocurrency transactions.
While some NFT exchanges also accept the use of bank payment methods, such as the US dollar, the fees Coinbase is talking about are a completely different matter. On blockchains like Ethereum, which many NFT projects use, any transaction is indeed charged, with the earnings coming to reward the “miners” who provide processing resources to validate that transaction. Fees are collected in cryptocurrencies such as ETH, and the same rule applies even if you send someone a free NFT. Important to know, none of the fee associated with the use of the blockchain network goes to Coinbase, or to the recipient receiving that NFT token. In other words, it’s difficult for Apple to justify labeling the NFT transfer-to-go feature as an in-app payment system.
Incidentally, Apple recently updated the App Store rules, introducing a paragraph expressly regulating NFT transactions:
Apps may use in-app purchases to sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as creating, listing, and transferring. Apps may allow users to see their own NFTs, provided that owning them does not unlock features or functionality within the app. Apps may allow users to browse NFT collections owned by others, provided that apps do not include buttons, external links or actions that direct customers to purchase mechanisms other than in-app purchases.
Thus, it is difficult for Apple to justify labeling the NFT transfer-to-go feature as an in-app payment scheme, so long as none of the rules already outlined are violated.
Coinbase officials are confident that the blocking of the Coinbase Wallet app is simply the result of a misjudgment on Apple’s part. However, talks are somewhat tense after a similar “verdict” was given to the Twitter app, with CEO Elon Musk accusing Apple of turning the AppStore into a monopoly.