Coinbase Drops iOS NFTs As Apple Extends 30% Cut to Gas Fees

Coinbase Drops iOS NFTs As Apple Extends 30% Cut to Gas Fees

3 months ago

The top U.S. crypto exchange turned off Coinbase Wallet's ability to handle NFTs after the App Store demanded 30% of the transaction fees for sending the tokens from one address to another.

Coinbase Drops iOS NFTs As Apple Extends 30% Cut to Gas Fees

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Crypto's ongoing fight with Apple's App Store policy of collecting a 30% cut of every sale just knocked NFTs out of the Coinbase Wallet.

On Thursday, the @CoinbaseWallet Twitter account announced that the iPhone version of the Wallet "can't send NFTs on Coinbase Wallet iOS anymore," the company said. "This is because Apple blocked our last app release until we disabled the feature."

The problem, it said, is that "Apple's claim is that the gas fees required to send NFTs need to be paid through their In-App Purchase system, so that they can collect 30% of the gas fee."

Which, it noted, is a problem "for anyone who understands how NFTs and blockchains work" for several reasons.

"The biggest impact from this policy change is on iPhone users that own NFTs — if you hold an NFT in a wallet on an iPhone, Apple just made it a lot harder to transfer that NFT to other wallets, or gift it to friends or family."

More to the point, however, the "in-app purchase system does not support crypto so we couldn't comply even if we tried," Coinbase Wallet said. "This is akin to Apple trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open Internet protocols." It added:

"Simply put, Apple has introduced new policies to protect their profits at the expense of consumer investment in NFTs and developer innovation across the crypto ecosystem."

The policy is a "good example of the kinds of discussions we have with Apple on a monthly basis, to deal with their app store monopoly," added Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. "It's gotten pretty absurd at times."

The 30% Solution

Taking a cut of gas fees is a lot more onerous — or more accurately virtually impossible technically — than Apple's new NFT policy, announced on Oct. 24.
While that specifically allows NFT sales, it specifies that all sales must be in dollars, not crypto. Which, really, is less onerous as it matches a growing trend towards selling NFTs for fiat as well as crypto.

That policy also imposes the 30% fee on all NFT sales. As a result, a number of leading marketplaces, including OpenSea and Rarible, have browse-only apps.

It also adds a slew of new restrictions, including a ban on NFTs unlocking other features in an app and, of course, those apps providing any alternate way to pay — the same battle with Apple that Fortnite-developer Epic Games is fighting in court.

And more recently, Twitter-owner Elon Musk, has attacked Apple over the 30% fee after it joined a number of large companies in pulling their ads — as a result of fears that his free speech policy will let more objectionable material including hate speech back onto the platform — and warned that the Twitter app could be banned from 1.2 billion iPhones if it crosses Apple's very broad objectionable material clause.
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