A class action suit filed on Nov. 17 in California alleged that Apple entered anti-competitive agreements that partially restricted the use of cryptocurrency.
Specifically, plaintiffs said that agreements between Apple and its competitors prevent iOS Peer-to-Peer Payment Market apps from offering decentralized crypto features.
The plaintiffs asserted that Apple’s agreements apply to various other payment companies including competitors such as PayPal (owner of PayPal and Venmo), Block (owner of Cash App), and Google (owner of Google Pay). It appears that the agreements apply only to the iOS store versions of those payment apps.
In support of their argument, the plaintiffs cited Apple’s App Store Guidelines. Those rules state that apps may handle crypto transactions only on approved exchanges and only in regions that have granted the app licenses and permissions.
The plaintiffs argue this rule is “designed to prevent payment apps…from implementing decentralized cryptocurrency transfers,” as it requires transactions to go through intermediaries with custody over funds instead of peer blockchain networks.
Other apps have been blocked from the store
The plaintiffs additionally argued that Apple’s policy has prevented certain other competitors from entering its market, such as the crypto wallets Zeus and Damus. Both wallets intended to offer peer-to-peer transactions without intermediary exchanges. The latter crypto wallet — Damus — attracted widespread attraction in June 2023 as it was removed from the App Store despite attempts at compliance.
The filing does not make any mention of other apps that have experienced difficulties with Apple’s policies, such as Uniswap, Metamask, and Coinbase Wallet. All three applications have resolved their difficulties and are now listed on the iOS store.
The lawsuit otherwise pursues a nationwide class action suit that will allow claims from U.S. Venmo and Cash App customers who have paid fees since November 2019. Though it allows for corporate entities to make a claim, it attempts to exempt Apple, PayPal, Google, and their employees and other related parties from making a claim.
The class action suit seeks damages as well as injunctions modifying Apple’s behavior. It is unclear whether the lawsuit has any legal merit.