Technology

Coinbase removes NFT transfers from iOS app following dispute with Apple


Coinbase Inc. is the latest company to have issues with Apple and its App Store policies, claiming that it has been forced to remove nonfungible token transfers from its iOS wallet because Apple wants a cut of the transfer fees.

Nonfungible tokens, better known as NFTs, rose to popularity in late 2020. Although interest in them has dropped precipitously, there is still an active market for buying and selling them. Most NFTs reside on the Ethereum blockchain and transfers on the blockchain require “gas,” a transaction fee, to make a transfer. It’s a fee that all users may pay to perform any function on the Ethereum blockchain.

Apple, for unclear reasons, now thinks it’s entitled to a 30% cut of the gas fee of any NFTs transferred using Coinbase. The case is unlike other disputes with Apple wherein developers, most notably Epic Games Ltd., argue that Apple’s 30% cut is unfair. At least when buying items in “Fortnite,” Apple is taking a cut out of Epic Games’ profits. There’s nothing to take from Coinbase because it’s not a fee it receives, keeps or profits from.

“For anyone who understands how NFTs and blockchains work, this is clearly not possible,” Coinbase wrote in a tweet. “Apple’s proprietary In-App Purchase system does not support crypto, so we couldn’t comply even if we tried.”

Coinbase claims that the move “is akin to Apple trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open internet protocols.” because of Apple’s stance, iPhone users who own NFTs now have difficulties transferring their NFTs to other wallets.

“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,” Coinbase added.

Along with Epic Games, Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg attacked Apple at the DealBook Summit yesterday, claiming that Apple’s status as the gatekeeper of its app marketplace isn’t good for anyone but Apple.

“If you look at all the major competing platforms that have existed — iOS, Android, Windows — Apple stands out,” Zuckerberg said. “It is the only one where one company can control what apps get on the device. I don’t think it’s sustainable or good.”

Twitter Inc. owner Elon Musk also attacked Apple, claiming that Twitter faced being banned from the App Store. The dispute was then resolved, at least for now, after Musk gained assurances from CEO Tim Cook that Apple had no plans to remove the Twitter app from the store.

Image: Coinbase

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