Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has slammed Apple for its stance on cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency-related apps. According to Armstrong, Apple has not been friendly to cryptocurrency and has prohibited app developers from offering many crypto-related features. Armstrong claimed that “there could be an antitrust issue there.” Armstrong was speaking during a recent episode of the Superteam podcast.
Although the Apple App Store allows crypto wallets and exchanges to list their apps, it limits their ability to provide many crypto-related services. For example, the crypto guidelines prohibit apps from offering Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), crypto futures trading, or crypto-securities trading unless they are from a well-established bank, securities firm, futures commission merchant, or approved financial institution. Similarly, it prohibits apps from offering cryptos in exchange for completing tasks such as downloading other apps or encouraging other users to download them. Many people believe that Apple’s crypto guidelines are not clear and explicit and that they cannot be applied to specific use cases, making compliance more difficult for app developers.
For example, Apple has allowed NFT marketplace OpenSea to list its app in the App Store, allowing users to browse the NFTs but not trade. Sticky, another NFT app, was removed from the App Store earlier this year for using the term NFT to describe digital collectibles that were not minted on a public blockchain.
Armstrong claims that prohibiting crypto apps from providing cryptocurrency services stifles their growth and product roadmap.
Despite the fact that cryptocurrency is still not recognized as legal tender, investment in it has increased. Coinbase and other exchanges have been rapidly expanding. It launched its crypto trading services in India earlier this month, allowing millions of cryptocurrency owners to trade on Coinbase’s exchange. However, its plans to allow users to pay for trading via a unified payment interface (UPI) did not pan out, and the company was forced to withdraw the UPI payment option just days after the India launch.
Coinbase currently has over 43 million users worldwide, with over 2.8 million of them active monthly.
Armstrong also hinted that in the future, crypto-compatible phones will be very popular. However, it will not be without the support of the major mobile operating system providers. He also stated that in order to accommodate cryptos, the two mobile operating systems will need to expand their device ecosystems. Despite the fact that blockchain-based smartphones have been released in the past, they have not gained significant traction.
Apple is already embroiled in several antitrust cases and investigations into its App Store policies, which many believe are intended to force developers to use anything other than Apple’s payment mechanism and pay a high app store commission on every transaction.