Apple Inc. has censored some cryptocurrency features of the Coinbase app. Specifically, Apple has blocked Coinbase from adding to its iOS app the ability to earn money using cryptocurrency and access to decentralized finance (Defi) apps.
Apple vs. Coinbase
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has been struggling to get some functionalities approved for its iOS app, CEO Brian Armstrong detailed his company’s experience dealing with Apple Inc. on Friday. “In the wake of other companies struggling with Apple’s App Store restrictions, I want to share a bit about Coinbase’s own struggle here,” he began, elaborating:
Here is the issue. Apple has told us we cannot add the following functionality in our iOS apps: (1) the ability to earn money using cryptocurrency and (2) the ability to access decentralized finance apps (sometimes called Defi apps or Dapps).
“We’ve tried discussing this through regular channels with Apple, and I reached out directly to leadership to request a dialog, but we seem to be at a dead end,” he shared on Twitter.
Armstrong criticized Apple for disallowing iOS users the choice of earning through cryptocurrencies during this coronavirus-led economic crisis. “There are many unbanked and underbanked people in the world who have no ability to get a loan to buy a home, or start a business, so this kind of technology has enormous potential to improve the world over time, even if it is still early days,” the CEO wrote.
He further revealed that Apple has prohibited Coinbase from providing a list of decentralized apps to users on the iOS platform, claiming that the Coinbase app “offers cryptocurrency transactions in non-embedded software within the app, which is not appropriate for the App Store.” However, Armstrong maintained: “Dapps or Defi apps are fundamentally just websites that you can access through any browser. So Apple is essentially saying you can’t provide users with a list of websites they can visit through an app.”
Gabor Gurbacs, the digital asset strategist and director at Vaneck and MVIS, explained: “Apple is a company and the Appstore is their own product/property, not a public utility. It often feels like some product and services should be more open or easier to use but ultimately it’s the company’s/owner’s decision … similar to how Coinbase decides which tokens to list.” Lawyer Jake Chervinsky commented: “Apple wants to be your bank. Defi is bad for business.”
Nonetheless, Coinbase’s CEO emphasized that his company’s iOS apps are not missing some features that users want because his teams have not gotten to them, but because “those features are being censored by Apple.” Armstrong continued:
Apple also has a conflict of interest in applying these app store restrictions. While they are ostensibly designed to protect customers, it increasingly looks like they are also protecting Apple from competition.
“Forcing users to use the App Store instead of Dapps (websites), or IAP [in-app purchase] instead of crypto payments, reminds me of what Microsoft did back in the day (forcing users to use IE if you were on Windows) which led to all their antitrust issues,” the Coinbase CEO opined. “Apple, it’s time to stop stifling innovation in cryptocurrency.”
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