Apple Wants 30% of NFT Transfer Fees, Says Coinbase

Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday announced it had to disable the ability to send NFTs on the iOS version of Coinbase Wallet, the company’s mobile crypto wallet app, because Apple wanted a 30% cut of the “gas fees” involved.

Gas fees are essentially transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain network. They are paid to network validators when making any transaction, such as transferring an NFT.

According to Coinbase, Apple blocked the latest version of Coinbase Wallet until NFT transfers were disabled. “Apple’s claim is that the gas fees required to send NFTs need to be paid through their In-App Purchase system, so that they can collect 30% of the gas fee,” Coinbase Wallet added in a tweet.

Apple charges app developers a 15-30% commission on all sales, including both apps and in-app purchases, made through its App Store. However, Coinbase Wallet pointed out that paying gas fees through Apple’s proprietary In-App Purchase system simply isn’t possible as it doesn’t support cryptocurrency and gas fees are paid exclusively in ether (ETH).

Apple’s controversial App Store commissions and overall practices have been the subject of many legal proceedings and clashes with other companies as of late.

Most notably, Apple’s App Store policies are the centrepiece of its still-ongoing case against Fortnite developer Epic Games, and the European Union this month began implementing extensive legislation to curb Apple’s dominance in the mobile app ecosystem starting in 2024.

The company has even caught flak from Tesla and (more recently) Twitter CEO Elon Musk for its App Store fees being “a 30% tax on the internet.” Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg also joined the fray this week, arguing that Apple’s hold over the App Store raises a “conflict of interest” for the iPhone maker.

“Apple has introduced new policies to protect their profits at the expense of consumer investment in NFTs and developer innovation across the crypto ecosystem,” Coinbase said, likening a commission on gas fees to Apple trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open internet protocols.

“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.”

Back in April, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong highlighted “potential antitrust issues” with Apple’s cryptocurrency policy while accusing the company of banning specific features from the company’s app.