Apple Rules Prevent Coinbase Wallet Users Sending NFTs

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  • Apple has told Coinbase that it is due 30% of the gas fees used in NFT transfers from the Coinbase Wallet
  • These fees are paid in ETH, so it’s not clear how Apple expects to collect them
  • Coinbase has had to halt the ability for Coinbase NFT users to send these assets out of their wallet

Apple has forced Coinbase to prohibit the sending of NFTs from the Coinbase Wallet after it enforced a 30% tax on transaction fees. Apple argues that its policy dictates that NFT transfers count as transactions, which means they should go through its in-app purchase system allowing it a 30% cut. Coinbase, of course, argued that transactions are conducted through an entirely different system, and that “we couldn’t comply even if we tried”. As a result, iOS Coinbase Wallet users are not able to send NFTs from their wallets.

Compliance is “Clearly Not Possible”

Apple is well known for its hefty cut on transaction fees, and for the 12 months that the Coinbase Wallet has supported NFTs, Coinbase has managed to get away without gas fees falling into the same bracket. However, Apple has now caught up with the company and demanded that it take 30% of all ETH gas fees spent when NFTs are sent from the Coinbase Wallet.

Of course, as Coinbase pointed out, this is “clearly not possible”, given that the technology that Apple uses to collect fees is completely different from blockchain technology – this is like Apple demanding that Coinbase drive a car on railway lines.

Coinbase suggested that the principle is similar to Apple “trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open Internet protocols”, and added that these new policies have been introduced to “protect their profits at the expense of consumer investment in NFTs and developer innovation across the crypto ecosystem.”

No Easy Solution in Sight

The end result is that it is now “a lot harder” for users to transfer NFTs out of the Coinbase Wallet and into other wallets or exchanges. The news led to increased calls for NFT holders to utilize other means of storing NFTs, such as hardware wallets, which are non-custodial and so would not be impacted by such rules.

Coinbase says that it hopes Apple’s intervention is “an oversight on Apple’s behalf and an inflection point for further conversations with the ecosystem.” However, the odds of getting Apple to bend the rules for Coinbase is slim to none, meaning another resolution will have to be found.