A court decision in Epic vs. Apple might pave the way for iOS cryptocurrency payments.

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Apple cannot continue to prohibit the use of external payment methods, therefore it may become much easier to spend cryptocurrencies on iPhone and iPad devices in the near future.

Making use of cryptocurrency wallets to make payments within Apple’s iOS ecosystem could soon become a lot easier, thanks to a ruling today in the case between Fortnite developer Epic Games and the iPhone-making tech giant.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a permanent injunction in the case, ruling that Apple can no longer block iOS developers’ ability to enable payments through external services. App developers on the platform may currently only route payments through Apple, which takes up to 30% of all revenue from in-app sales.

Gonzalez Rogers said in her finding that Apple is “hereby permanently barred and enjoined from forbidding developers from incorporating in their apps and metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that guide customers to purchase mechanisms, in addition to in-app purchasing.”

Unless overturned by a higher court, the ruling will take effect in 90 days. It’s a big setback for Apple and its “walled garden” ecosystem approach, which has produced enormous sums of cash since the App Store’s inception in 2008. Apple’s App Store reportedly yielded $64 billion in gross revenue in 2020 alone, per CNBC.

Epic Games challenged Apple’s locked-down ecosystem in August 2020, updating the iOS version of Fortnite to add the ability to purchase in-game currency (V-Bucks) directly from Epic. That violated Apple’s developer terms, and the game was removed from the App Store, thus leading to the legal showdown that was resolved today. The Android version of Fortnite was also removed from Google’s Play Store due to a separate conflict.

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If today’s ruling goes into effect, then Apple will be forced to allow developers to build iPhone and iPad apps that feature a wider array of payment options through external services. This may ultimately open the door to much easier use of cryptocurrency wallets to pay for goods and services, and a wider array of mobile payment options for iOS users. It’s also a ruling that may cost Apple billions of dollars in the process.

Currently, select financial service providers, such as Coinbase and BitPay, can be used to make bitcoin payments through Apple Pay. This verdict, however, may allow users to use other payment methods that do not go via Apple’s own payment system, such as paying straight from a cryptocurrency wallet.

Today’s decision may turn out to be a win for both consumers and Epic Games, albeit the game publisher did not escape unscathed. Gonzalez Rogers stated in a separate finding that Epic broke its developer contract with Apple and must pay a 30% part of the almost $12.2 million produced through its payment option that skirted platform rules—more than $3.6 million.

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“Given the trial record, the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws,” Gonzalez Rogers wrote in the full judgment. “Nonetheless, the trial did show that Apple is engaging in anticompetitive conduct under California’s competition laws. The Court concludes that Apple’s anti-steering provisions hide critical information from customers and illegally stifle consumer choice.”

In a statement, Apple cited the ruling as a win—that “the Court recognized that ‘success is not illegal,” quoting the text of the judgement. Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted, “Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”

Epic Games, which has contended that Apple is “suppressing free market competition and inflating prices,” confirmed to The Verge that it plans to appeal today’s verdict. “We will fight on,” Sweeney tweeted.

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