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Coinbase says Apple is demanding 30% cut of NFT gas fees before allowing digital wallet update

Budrul Chukrut—SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Coinbase said Thursday that Apple is blocking the latest update to its digital wallet on iOS until the crypto exchange either shares 30% of gas fees from NFT sales or disables the ability to send them.

Coinbase claims that Apple wants gas fees to be paid through a system that takes a 30% cut of all in-app purchases for applications on Apple devices. But a tweet by the Twitter account for Coinbase Wallet claims that this isn’t even possible, comparing it to Apple wanting to take a cut for every email sent over the internet. Apple generally charges a 30% fee for any app sold via its app store, as well for in-app purchases, such as buying more lives on Candy Crush or a skin in Minecraft.

“Apple’s proprietary In-App Purchase system does not support crypto so we couldn’t comply even if we tried,” read a Thursday tweet from the Coinbase Wallet Twitter account. Another tweet from the account read: “The biggest impact from this policy change is on iPhone users that own NFTs - if you hold an NFT in a wallet on an iPhone, Apple just made it a lot harder to transfer that NFT to other wallets, or gift it to friends or family.”


Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong also chimed in.

“Good example of the kinds of discussions we have with Apple on a monthly basis, to deal with their app store monopoly. It's gotten pretty absurd at times,” he tweeted Thursday.

The standoff between Apple and the Coinbase Wallet is the latest criticism of the tech giant’s control over apps in its ecosystem. In September, the company began to allow apps on its App Store to sell NFTs, as long as it still got a 30% cut of each purchase. Android’s Google Play store has a similar 30% fee.

The leaders of other big tech companies, including Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, Elon Musk of Twitter, and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek also have criticized Apple for its tight grip on apps.

Apple did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

The move sparked criticism from prominent business leaders in traditional internet companies and Web3 upstarts. Tim Sweeney, whose company Epic Games sued Apple in 2020 for alleged antitrust violations, said in a September tweet that the tech giant “is killing all NFT app businesses it can’t tax.”

On the Web3 side, cofounder and executive chairman of Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands Yat Siu told Fortune earlier this year that Apple’s decision to impose the 30% fee would drive away blockchain-based companies.

“The issue with Apple is that they charge you 30% because they’re Apple, with no other explanations given,” Siu told Fortune at the time.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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