App store icon on a phone

Apple to permit third-party apps for iPhone users, signals potential boom for NFTs

After 15 years of global smartphone domination through its walled-garden App Store, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is finally opening up its iPhone and iPad devices to alternative app stores in a move that could bring non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital currency to over 1.2 billion devices.

A report by Bloomberg revealed that senior engineers at the smartphone giant are working on a plan to finally integrate third-party apps to iPhone users. The changes, which Apple has invested billions of dollars to oppose, come in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act. The Act demands that tech firms with a market cap of at least $80 billion allow their users to install third-party apps and that outside developers get equal access to all the core features within apps.

While the Act takes full effect in 2024, Bloomberg reports that Apple is already working on these integrations.

The integration would mean that app developers can now evade the hefty 30% cut that Apple imposes on App Store applications. This cut has been the subject of heated debates in the tech world and even led to lawsuits, but Apple has managed to come out on top, at least until now.

The move is quite significant for the blockchain world and could usher in a new era for NFTs and digital asset payments. One new product that developers can now build is a digital asset app store, Alex Salnikov, the founder of NFT marketplace Rarible, says.

It could be an even bigger boom for NFTs. Apple’s current 30% cut has been a big deterrent for NFT marketplaces, leading most of them to abstain from the App Store. For some like Magic Eden that have iOS apps, they only allow users to browse, not buy or sell.

In its October update, Apple further clamped down on the sector, revealing that it would not allow NFT apps to include buttons or calls to action that give users a way to circumvent the 30% commission.

The commission forced Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) to announce earlier this month that it would no longer support NFTs on its iOS app. In its criticism of the 30% commission, the exchange claimed it was akin to “Apple trying to take a cut of fees for every email that gets sent over open Internet protocols.”

While it works to open up its app ecosystem, the company is reportedly still undecided on whether it will allow third-party apps to use their own payments infrastructure. The firm has always forced developers and app publishers to use its own payment rails. If it were to allow third-party payment infrastructure, the firm would create an opportunity for app developers to build Bitcoin-powered payment rails for iPhone users.

While Apple opening up its devices to other app stores will be a net win for both developers and users, it could also pose security challenges. The risk would be even higher for digital asset enthusiasts as the industry has a higher-than-average presence of scammers.

Just recently, security experts busted a North Korean hacking group targeting victims through Somora, an app that claims to offer users a way to safely store digital assets. The app is loaded with malware that infiltrates users’ devices and cleans their crypto wallets.

The app isn’t available on Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. The hackers rely on a link that redirects victims to the website that hosts the app.

Watch: The BSV Global Blockchain Convention presentation, Buzzmint: Elevating NFTs

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