In the recently announced updates to its App Store Guidelines, Apple has eventually shed clarity around Non Fungible Tokens or NFTs.
The tech giant has rejected calls to exclude NFTs from its “Apple Tax” on purchases. This means the standard 30% commission rate on NFT purchases will apply.
Apart from that, NFTs are allowed to exist within apps on the App Store—but they can’t unlock additional features or content.
“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,” the guidelines said.
The guidelines also states, “Apps may allow users to browse NFT collections owned by others, provided that the apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.”
More importantly, the guidelines shed light on the legitimacy of crypto transactions in respective countries. “Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered only in countries or regions where the app has appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange,” it said.
Coinbase and Binance are the cryptocurrency exchanges that already exist on the App Store. The new updates in the guidelines are believed to be giving more clarity to these businesses of how they model to operate on the Apple App Store.
Just last month, The Information reported on how Apple’s fee policies are keeping marketplaces and creators away from its ecosystem and sometimes leading them to abandon NFT integrations outright.
Because Apple’s “in-app purchase” service does not handle crypto payments, it would appear unlikely that apps that choose to offer NFT mints could accept crypto in return.
The Monday updates mark the first time Apple has provided specific rules for NFTs in its App Store guidelines.
The policy update also bans apps from offering exclusive access to NFT owners, or from linking their users to third-party sites where they might buy, sell and mint outside the Apple ecosystem – thus evading the fee derisively known as the “Apple Tax.”
“Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency wallets, etc.,” reads section 3.1.1. of its App Store rules on Oct. 24 (the crypto mentions do not appear in an Oct. 22 version).
The updated wording does not fundamentally change Apple’s existing policies permitting in-app crypto trading on services such as Coinbase and FTX, which don’t have to pay 30% fees.
But it does add some more explicit teeth (emphasis added in bold):
Revised 3.1.5(iii): “Exchanges: Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered only in countries or regions where the app has appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange.”