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Apple’s App Store Guidelines Under Scrutiny by Lawmakers for Blockchain and NFT Limitations

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: AdobeStock / BGStock72

Apple is facing regulatory scrutiny in the US over its App Store guidelines, which allegedly hurt apps related to blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

In a formal letter, US Representatives Gus Bilirakis of the Republican Party, representing Florida, and Jan Schakowsky of the Democratic Party, representing Illinois, expressed their concerns directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The lawmakers raised questions about the potential impact of Apple’s guidelines on the advancement of innovative technologies like distributed ledger technology and NFTs. 

They noticed a pattern in Apple’s approach, where the company appeared to profit from and limit the functionality of crypto apps simultaneously. 

This was achieved by mandating the release of “lite” versions of the apps, which not only generated profits for Apple but also reduced the overall utility of the applications. 

The lawmakers cited the case of Axie Infinity‘s App Store experience as evidence of this strategy.

They noted that while Apple has justified these limitations as necessary for security, there is growing concern that the company is using the App Store as a tool to suppress competition. 

The lawmakers said they believe that it is crucial for Congress to thoroughly understand the App Store guidelines and assess how they may hinder innovation. 

“Our subcommittee remains committed to promoting full transparency and ensuring that Big Tech is held accountable for monopolistic behavior.”

Crypto Apps Face Struggle to Comply With Apple’s 30% Fee 

One specific anti-crypto policy mentioned in the letter is the requirement for blockchain projects to give up 30% of their gas fees to the App Store. 

Coinbase Wallet, for example, had previously claimed that complying with this requirement was impossible because Apple’s in-app purchase system did not support cryptocurrencies.

Likewise, Damus, a decentralized social networking app backed by Jack Dorsey, has been facing removal from the App Store because it allegedly fails to adhere to Apple’s payment rules. 

The app has a tipping feature that allows content creators to receive tips in the form of Bitcoin through the Lightning Network. 

Apple deems this feature a violation of its guidelines, as it prohibits developers from selling additional in-app content unless the transactions go through Apple, through which the tech giant takes a 30% cut.

Meanwhile, there has been a surge in interest in decentralized social media platforms amid recent controversy around social media platforms and their adherence to the values of “freedom of speech.”

Aave’s Lens Protocol, a Web3 social graph that can be used to build decentralized social media, is another such attempt that aims to allow developers to create decentralized applications.