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Apple updates its App Store guidelines, imposing a 30% commission on NFTs

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(Kitco News) - Apple has released the latest updates to its App Store guidelines, which for the first time include specific rules for nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as well as an update to its policy on cryptocurrency exchanges. 

The new additions spell out how NFT purchases will be taxed and what they can be used for, in addition to providing clarity around when a cryptocurrency exchange app is available for listing.

According to the newly added guidelines for NFTs, “Apps may use in-app purchase to sell and sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing, and transferring.” These apps will only be allowed to let users view their own NFTs and are not permitted to include any other special features or functionality that are unlocked by an NFT. 

Users are also allowed to browse the NFT collections of others, “provided that the apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.”

The revised updates appear to be focused on making sure that purchases conducted on any applications are routed through the App Store and subject to commissions. The NFT “Apple tax” automatically applies a standard 30% commission rate on all purchases, and the new rules ensure that all NFT purchases are conducted in-app. 

This goal was further supported by the following revision to previous guidelines: “Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency wallets, etc.”

These alternative mechanisms would potentially enable users to circumvent app-store commissions on NFT purchases. The exclusion of QR codes and cryptos helps prevent the ability to unlock content or additional functionality within an app. 

Crypto proponents have widely voiced their displeasure with Apple applying a 30% commission on all NFT sales conducted through NFT marketplace apps for platforms like OpenSea or MagicEden. Most consider this markup to be significantly overpriced when compared to an average NFT purchase commission of 2.5%. 

The policy has led some platforms, including MagicEden, to remove their apps from the App Store; others have reduced the functionality of their applications to only allow users to browse or view the NFTs that they own. 

The use of crypto for in-app purchases is also prohibited by the App Store guidelines, meaning that only fiat currencies are allowed to be used with a “valid payment method” such as debit or credit cards.

The main change that was applied to cryptocurrency exchange applications is that they can only be offered in “countries or regions where the app has appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange.”

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