Apple is adding a standard for accepting NFT-based apps to be available on the Apple App Store. However, the company is taking into account a standard 30% transaction fee for all transactions, a mechanism that many NFT companies consider unreasonable and simply unfeasible for their appearance in the app store.
Let’s take a look at why this is happening and what we can expect in the future.
App Store adjustments
In a report first published by Aidan Ryan at The Information, Apple told startups that NFTs are allowed to be sold on apps listed in Apple’s App Store, but all NFT sales must come through in-app purchases, this would be subject to Apple’s hefty fees. As Ryan notes, this has forced new projects and platforms to limit functionality in apps to try to avoid those 30% fees — despite the fact that Apple plays no role in facilitating those transactions other than accepting the presence of a corresponding app in the App Store.
A Blogger at FOSS Patents noted that the actual costs for developers can sometimes exceed the 30% commission typically found in the App Store; FOSS has argued that certain geographies are subject to fees that can be as high as around 35% and forced to pay for advertisements. The founder of The Information, Jessica Lessin, shared a view echoed by FOSS and spoke out when Apple’s commission fees were met with enormous criticism: “Is the entire segment of the new economy not meeting the requirements of the App Store?”
The fuel charge debate
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney shared his thoughts on the matter in a tweet on Friday, describing the App Store’s mechanism as a “strangely overpriced in-app payment service.” Sweeney has had many inconsistencies surrounding commissions on the App Store, as Epic’s flagship product ‘Fortnite’ was removed from the App Store after Epic sought to circumvent the aforementioned fee structure. Sweeney has argued that Apple’s commission rate is not developer-friendly and offers little benefit to the industry’s growth.
Sweeney previously had a neutral view of NFTs, but Epic has since shown an attitude of continuing to be a pioneering developer (whether or not that product includes NFTs). Other critics have argued that this stance by Apple is a good opportunity for native cryptocurrency competitors in the near term, such as the ‘Solana mobile’ project that is coming online.