Apple is facing a new class-action lawsuit that accused the tech giant of conspiring to limit P2P payment options on its devices. Specifically, the company is suspected of blocking the integration of cryptocurrency payment solutions in iOS payment apps.
The complaint was filed by the users of Venmo and Cash App on November 17 in a California District Court. According to the lawsuit, Apple has entered anti-competitive agreements with popular payment platforms, including Block’s Cash App and PayPal’s Venmo.
The agreements supposedly restrict the use of decentralized crypto technology within the company’s payment apps. As a result, users have been facing increased prices. The complaint reads:
These agreements limit feature competition—and the price competition that would flow from it—marketwide, including by barring the incorporation of decentralized cryptocurrency technology within existing or new iOS Peer-to-Peer Payment apps.
This means that the plaintiffs claim that Apple used contractual and technological restraints, such as the exclusivity on the App Store and limitations on web browser technology, to take complete control of all apps that run on iPads and iPhones.
They also accused the company of forcing new P2P apps for iOS devices to exclude any potential cryptocurrency functionality, even claiming that doing so is a condition for the new apps to even enter the App Store.
According to the plaintiffs, this behavior led to increased user fees, and they now seek to recover damages for overcharging and excessive fees directly caused by Apple’s supposed anti-competitive behavior.
The lawsuit is quite extensive, spanning 58 pages in total. It provided the history and steady growth of P2P payment apps and decentralized cryptos. Furthermore, if the allegations prove accurate, that would make Apple a repeat offender, as the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit already ruled that the company had violated Californian competition laws last April.
At the time, the court found that the firm did prohibit apps from directing users to payment solutions not associated with Apple.
The company does have specific rules in terms of sharing fees, which require all app developers to share 30% of transaction revenue with Apple. Of course, when it comes to crypto firms that aim to provide services to iOS users, this has been a significant barrier.
Apple also previously removed certain apps from the store for allegedly violating its terms of service, with the Bitcoin-friendly social media app Damus being one of them. The reason for its removal is the tipping feature that the app had, which allowed users to tip content creators through the use of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.
But, according to Apple, the feature violates its guidelines, as it prevents developers from selling additional in-app content. Apple demands that all transactions go through its services to take its 30% cut. Since crypto payments do not go through Apple, the company simply removed such apps. Apple even removed MetaMask back in October, although the popular Ethereum wallet quickly got restored.
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