Apple faces a class-action lawsuit alleging the tech giant conspired to limit peer-to-peer payment options on its devices and blocked the integration of crypto technology in iOS payment apps.
The lawsuit, lodged on Nov. 17 in a California District Court, accuses Apple of conspiring with major payment platforms like PayPal’s Venmo and Block’s Cash App to limit the use of decentralized cryptocurrency technology in iOS payment applications.
According to the complaint, these agreements have led to a lack of feature and price competition in the market, particularly by preventing the integration of decentralized cryptocurrency technology in both existing and new iOS Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Payment apps.
The plaintiffs argue that this has resulted in consumers paying inflated prices due to Apple’s control over the iOS P2P payment market.
The filing highlights Apple’s use of both technological and contractual measures to maintain a tight grip on the apps available on its devices. These measures include hardware-enforced App Store exclusivity and restrictions on web browser technology, which, according to the plaintiffs, allow Apple to dictate the terms for new iOS P2P payment apps, often excluding crypto options as a condition for their entry into the market.
The plaintiffs identify themselves as consumers who have incurred higher fees as a result of Apple’s trade restrictions in the iOS peer-to-peer payment sector.
They seek to obtain compensation for the excessive charges they attribute to Apple’s purported anti-competitive behavior, and they are also seeking a court order to prevent the company from engaging in and enforcing agreements that limit competition in the iOS P2P payment market, affecting both existing competitors and potential new entrants.
The filing, comprising 58 pages, chronicles the development and ascent of peer-to-peer payment applications, the emergence of decentralized cryptocurrencies, and Apple’s introduction into this sector.
Significantly, in April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Apple breached California’s competition laws by preventing apps from guiding users toward payment solutions outside of Apple’s own system.
Crypto apps tussle to stay in Apple store
Apple’s policies mandate that app developers contribute 30% of their transaction earnings.
This requirement has posed a challenge for cryptocurrency companies, especially those involved in offering non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in their efforts to serve iOS users.
Apple has also reportedly removed Damus, a social media application that supports Bitcoin, from the App Store for failing to comply with its terms of service.
The app features a tipping option, which permits content creators to get tips in Bitcoin through the Lightning Network.
Apple considered this tipping feature to be in breach of its policies since it forbids developers from offering additional in-app content unless such transactions are conducted via Apple, from which the company extracts a 30% fee.
Earlier in October, the popular Ethereum wallet MetaMask also experienced a brief removal from the Apple App Store, only to be reinstated later.