Apple’s 30% tax rules will stay for now, crypto and NFTs may have to wait

Crypto app developers hoping for a loosening of Apple’s App Store rules will have to wait longer after a United States Supreme Court held off on granting a request to let apps direct users to payments outside of Apple’s ecosystem.

An Aug. 9 decision from Justice Elena Kagan declined to let a federal appeals court decision take immediate effect as Epic had asked — with no explanation for the decision.

In April, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Apple violated California’s competition laws by not allowing apps to direct users to non-Apple linked payment solutions.

The ruling meant that developers such as Epic Games would be able to funnel  users to alternative payment methods, giving them an option that circumvents Apple’s 30% tax on in-app payments.

The 30% Apple tax has also been a hurdle for crypto firms, including those that want to offer iOS users the ability to purchase non-fungible tokens.

At the moment, there exists no means to buy an NFT on an app listed on Apple’s App Store other than through its in-app payments system, which charges a 30% commission rate and only allows purchases using fiat.

Apple’s guidelines don’t allow apps to take crypto to unlock app functionality or make in-app purchases using crypto.

This has led to most crypto apps offering only limited functionality, such as being able to view balances and assets only. Crypto exchange apps are unaffected.

Related: Lawmakers probe Apple’s App Store policies on blockchain, NFTs

Justice Kagan’s rejection of Epic’s request means Apple will get at least a few more months of reprieve from the ruling as it plans a Supreme Court appeal to the decision.

The Ninth Circuit ruling will come into effect if the Supreme Court refuses Apple’s appeal, however.

In its argument to lift the appeals court hold Epic claimed it applied a “lax legal standard” in granting the stay which would injure Epic and “innumerable consumers and other app developers for a significant period of time.”

Apple hit back saying the stay has been in place for two years already and doesn’t apply to Epic anyway. Apple booted Epic’s Fortnite off the App Store in August 2020 for attempting to workaround Apple’s in-app payments system.

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