Apple’s new rules for App Store bar using NFTs to unlock in-app features

    26 Oct 2022

    Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines with more rules for crypto assets, Web3 games, and NFTs. The tech giant’s ban on peer-to-peer NFT trading de facto remains. Apple also reaffirms its longstanding policy preventing links to alternative payment methods.

    According to the new rules published on Oct. 24, the tech corporation has no problem with cryptocurrency exchanges or other applications, which allow the trading of digital tokens and coins, given that those platforms have the requisite regional licenses to operate where the app is distributed.

    “Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered only in countries or regions where the app has appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange,” the guidelines read.

    Also, apps can sell digital tokens, but they should not unlock additional features or content and “may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.”

    “Apps may use in-app purchase to sell and sell services related to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing, and transferring,” the new guidelines state. “Apps may allow users to view their own NFTs, provided that NFT ownership does not unlock features or functionality within the app.”

    This stance might badly affect NFT sales as one of the key NFT use cases is that they can unlock access to exclusive content or other features. For example, Bored Ape Yacht Club offers NFT holders access to numerous communication channels, merchandise, and even real-world events.

    Apple’s de facto ban on in-app NFT trading is likely to remain. That’s because in-app NFT transactions must use Apple’s rails for in-app commerce, where Apple demands a 30% cut. Creators and marketplaces have long balked at the fees, choosing to limit in-app NFT functionality rather than lose a massive slice of revenue.

    The App Store Review Guidelines are the users’ guide to creating and publishing apps to the App Store. A violation of these policies could result in app rejection or removal. Recently, The Information reported on how Apple’s fee policies are keeping creators and marketplaces away from its ecosystem and sometimes leading them to abandon NFT integrations outright.

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