Brian Armstrong: Coinbase has objections to Apple App Store restrictions, too

It would be an understatement to say that big companies have had issues with Apple’s App Store policies lately. The latest is Brain Armstrong, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase…

Armstrong’s qualms with Apple’s policies seem to fall into two categories. Apple won’t allow apps to offer:

  • the ability to earn money using cryptocurrency, nor
  • the ability to access decentralized finance apps

The first seems plenty straightforward: For whatever reason (Armstrong admits he hasn’t a clue), Apple has decided it doesn’t want users to be able to earn crypto through products like Coinbase’s Earn. That product lets you earn small amounts of cryptocurrency through micro-tasks like learning about blockchain and certain cryptocurrencies.

Armstrong objects that this rule is particularly odd in the midst of a global recession, but it’s easy to imagine why Apple wouldn’t want to open the door to any product that lets people earn cryptocurrency by completing micro tasks. Even though Coinbase’s offerings are legit, that sounds ripe for abuse.

The second App Store rule Coinbase is running up against is an odd objection from Apple on Coinbase offering users “a list of decentralized apps”. As Armstrong notes, these are really just websites — examples like Curve Finance and Uniswap are accessible through Chrome as long as you have a blockchain-connected extension like MetaMask installed.

Armstrong appeals to the fact that decentralized finance is a hot space for financial innovation, as well as the fact that these tools are being used by people across the world to access banking products they wouldn’t otherwise. Basically his argument boils down to the idea that Apple’s stringent policies are stifling innovation in a space that has “enormous potential to improve the world”.

“Apple, it’s time to stop stifling innovation in cryptocurrency,” Armstrong wrote. “We would like to work with you productively on this. Some day, cryptocurrency could even be integrated into IAP to give people in emerging markets better access to the financial system globally.”