Apple is preparing to allow third-party app stores on its devices to comply with new anti-monopolistic EU requirements, which could be a huge win for crypto and NFT app developers, at least in Europe.
According to a December 13 Bloomberg report citing those familiar with the matter, under the new rules, European customers would be able to download alternative app marketplaces outside of Apple’s proprietary App Store, allowing them to download apps that avoid Apple’s 30% commissions and app restrictions.
Apple currently has strict rules for NFT apps that force users to make in-app purchases subject to Apple’s 30% commission, while apps are not permitted to support cryptocurrency payments.
Apple’s enforcement of its rule resulted in the blocking of Coinbase’s self-custody wallet app update on December 1 because Apple wanted to “collect 30% of the gas fee” through in-app purchases, which is “clearly not possible,” according to Coinbase.
It said that Apple wanted the wallet to disable NFT transactions if they couldn’t be completed through its in-app purchase system.
On December 13, co-founder of NFT marketplace Rarible Alex Salnikov tweeted in response to the news that a “crypto app store” could be built and would be a “great candidate” for a venture capital-backed startup.
The move by Apple to open its ecosystem is in response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to regulate so-called “gatekeepers” and ensure platforms behave fairly, with one of the measures allowing “third parties to interoperate with the gatekeeper’s services.”
It will go into effect in May 2023, with businesses required to comply fully by 2024.
Apple has not decided whether it will comply with a provision of the Act that allows developers to include alternative payment systems in apps that do not involve Apple. If it does comply, it may allow cryptocurrencies to be used in payment systems.
To protect users from unsafe apps, the tech giant is considering mandating security requirements for software outside its store, such as Apple verification.
The changes to Apple’s closed ecosystem would only apply within the EU; other regions would need to pass similar legislation, such as Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal’s proposed Open App Markets Act in the United States Congress.