Brian Armstrong, CEO of US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, alleges that Apple is stifling innovation in cryptography and crowding out DeFi to protect itself from competition.
The CEO said that other cryptocurrency companies are “reluctant to speak out on these topics for fear of reprisal,” but he felt the need to speak out because Coinbase has exhausted its usual avenues of dialogue with Apple and has reached a “dead end.
According to Armstrong, Apple has told Coinbase that it is banned from adding two specific features to its iOS app: the ability to make money with cryptocurrencies and access to decentralized finance (DeFi) apps.
The first restriction reportedly affects the exchange’s Coinbase Earn product, resulting in Coinbase having to modify its app to be much less user-friendly.
We sometimes have bizarre negotiations with them, modifying products and asking users to jump ship (do tasks on their phones and then move to the web to collect rewards! to meet their guidelines. This creates an even worse experience for Apple and Coinbase’s customers
– Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) September 11, 2020.
The CEO claimed that these restrictions were specifically aimed at cryptocurrency users, saying, “Why would Apple want to prevent people from making money during a recession? If cryptocurrency is used, they don’t seem to accept it.” Armstrong says the lack of features in cryptographic apps for iOS users isn’t due to inaction on the part of developers, but because those features are “censored by Apple.”
In addition, Apple has also reportedly banned Coinbase from providing app users with a list of decentralized apps or DeFi apps, which are “really just websites”.
Apple’s reasoning is apparently “”Your [Coinbase] app offers cryptocurrency trading in non-embedded software within the app, which is inappropriate for use in the App Store.””
Armstrong noted that the DApps and DeFi apps can be accessed on any smartphone via a web browser anyway, and claimed that Apple’s decision was motivated by a “conflict of interest.”
While these restrictions are “ostensibly to protect customers, they increasingly appear to be protecting Apple from competition,” he wrote. .
By forcing users to use the Apple App Store instead of Apps, or in-app purchases instead of encrypted payments, Armstrong claims that Apple’s actions are akin to Microsoft’s past antitrust problems with forcing Windows users to use its proprietary browser, Internet Explorer.
During the coronavirus crisis, when the underbanked or unbanked may face greater difficulty accessing traditional financial services, Armstrong accused Apple of erecting yet another barrier to financial inclusion.
Apple, it’s time to stop stifling cryptocurrency innovation. We are willing to work productively with you on this. One day, cryptocurrencies could even be included in the IAP, giving people in emerging markets better access to the global financial system.
– Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) September 11, 2020