Apple blocks using NFTs to avoid App Store fees

Quick Take

  • In an update, Apple restricts apps from using NFTs to encourage consumers to do business outside the company’s purview, potentially circumventing the company’s ability to charge up to 30% commission on transactions.
  • The company is effectively discouraging NFT buyers and sellers to transact business in app.

Apple updated its App Store policy to restrict apps from using NFTs to incentivize users to purchase items or features the tech giant can't tax.
The Cupertino, California-based company charges up to 30% both on all purchases made on its App Store and all money spent when using apps.

In a recent update, Apple updated its policy to prohibit apps from using NFTs that include “buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.” 

Apps can “sell and sell services related to” NFTs “such as minting, listing and transferring,” according to Apple's update. But, using NFTs to unlock additional “features or functionality” is not allowed.  
Folding additional functionality and premium features into NFTs is way to boost their utility, or value. With trading volumes cratering in recent months NFT creators are trying to be more creative with how they market NFTs. Attaching added features is, in some cases, viewed as a way to increase demand.
Apple has already been criticized by NFT startups for wanting to take 30% — considered a hefty commission by many companies big and small — of NFT transactions when marketplaces charge about one-tenth of that percentage. Effectively Apple’s policy means that users are severely discouraged to do anything more than using marketplace apps like OpenSea and Magic Eden to view NFTs. If a user wants to buy or sell an NFT, they can do so for much cheaper on the marketplace’s website.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

RT Watson is a senior reporter at The Block who covers a wide array of topics including U.S.-based companies, blockchain gaming and NFTs. Formerly covered entertainment at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote about Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. and the creator economy while focusing primarily on technological disruption across media. Previous to that he covered corporate, economic and political news in Brazil while at Bloomberg. RT has interviewed a diverse cast of characters including CEOs, media moguls, top influencers, politicians, blue-collar workers, drug traffickers and convicted criminals. Holds a master's degree in Digital Sociology.