Coinbase Global Inc (COIN.O) said Thursday in a statement that customers using Apple's iOS devices cannot send non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the cryptocurrency exchange's wallet anymore. Apple takes 30% of fees collected through in-app purchases, which they claim would also apply to gas fees used to pay for transactions made through the CoinbaseWallet App. “For anyone who understands how NFTs and blockchains work, this is clearly not possible,” CoinbaseWallet said on twitter.
Grasping with Greed
Many tech leaders across the world believe Apple’s business practices to be antithetical to the metaverse. While Apple has no doubt created immense value and produces many great products, they focus on creating a walled garden—easy to enter, hard to exit.
Using their app store as a monopoly to take 30% of developers’ hard-earned money merely as a platform fee is not in the spirit of an open metaverse, where user-generated content will be the norm and creators will, hopefully, be well rewarded for their efforts, rather than subject to predatory platform fees and a restrictive terms-of-service.
Apple’s attempt to take 30% of gas fees for NFT transactions through Coinbase not only shows the extent of their greed, but also their ineptitude: “Apple’s proprietary In-App Purchase system does not support crypto so we couldn’t comply even if we tried” Coinbase commented. The company further compared Apple’s attempt to collect fees as “akin to … trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open Internet protocols.”
Weaponizing a Monopoly
Apple's 30% platform fees have long been a contentious policy, so this isn’t the first time the company has come under fire from others in the tech space. Major names like Spotify and Epic Games—creator of Fortnite and the Unreal Engine—have accused Apple of using its advantage as the world's most valuable company to make itself richer at their expense. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, himself a metaverse believer, has been a continued and open critic of Tim Cook and Apple’s practices.
Apple’s issue with CoinbaseWallet comes at a difficult time for the crypto exchange. Year-to-Date, their shares have plummeted 80%. The company has also cut jobs to manage expenses as investors lose their appetite for cryptocurrencies. These flames have been further flamed amidst the crypto market cash ignited by FTX’s bankruptcy filing after founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, had stolen user funds to prop up his trading firm, Alameda Research.
Ultimately, it seems like a matter of time before Apple buckles under the weight of opposition—opposition which believes in an open metaverse, free from the walled gardens that Apple has erected to prioritize profits over the needs of their customers.