Move-to-earn app Stepn introduces in-app NFT marketplace on iOS

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Move-to-earn lifestyle app Stepn has launched an in-app marketplace for NFT sales within its iOS app for Apple’s iPhone.

This move allows users to purchase NFT sneakers using Apple Pay, but there’s a catch—the prices for these items are considerably higher than buying them through Stepn’s web marketplace using its own GMT crypto token.

The reason behind this price disparity lies in the fees imposed by Apple for in-app purchases. Generally, mobile apps do not facilitate NFT purchases on the secondary market due to the complexities introduced by Apple and Google’s 30 percent fee on most in-app transactions, including NFTs.

App developers face the dilemma of either passing the additional fee to users or absorbing the cost themselves. In the case of Stepn, the developer chose the former by introducing a new in-app currency called Sparks. Users can purchase Sparks through the Stepn app using Apple Pay, bypassing direct involvement with cryptocurrencies.

However, the prices of items in Sparks are still significantly higher when converted to U.S. dollars compared to purchasing items through Stepn’s web marketplace using the GMT token. For instance, a pair of sneakers listed for 110 GMT (approximately $31.40) on the web marketplace would cost $44.60 worth of Sparks (446 Sparks) within the iOS app. This represents a 42 percent increase in price. Another comparison for a different NFT showed a nearly 43 percent difference between the prices on the web marketplace and the iOS app.

Stepn COO Shiti Manghani confirmed that the higher prices displayed in the iOS app include the fees handled by Find Satoshi Lab, the developer of Stepn, as part of the NFT purchasing process. This adjustment is necessary to adhere to Apple’s policies and account for the added taxation.

If a user sells a pair of NFT shoes through the Stepn marketplace and an iOS user purchases it, Find Satoshi Lab will pay the seller the listed price in GMT tokens, with any remaining balance in Sparks used to cover fees.

Apple’s high fees discouraging DApp developers

Apple’s 30 percent cut on in-app purchases and potential fees related to in-app currencies and credit card payments has been a sticking point for decentralized app (DApp) developers.

NFT marketplaces typically charge a much smaller platform fee for handling transactions. OpenSea, for instance, only charges 2.5 percent of the sale price for trades. Some apps also opt to refrain from enabling in-app NFT trades entirely.

NFT marketplace Magic Eden and popular NFT-based game Axie Infinity have both refrained from implementing in-app NFT trading capabilities. However, Dapper Labs expressed its desire to find a solution enabling in-app NFT trades in the future.

While Apple’s policies have remained unchanged, Stepn’s workaround allows NFT trades, although at a higher cost to users. Similar challenges have been faced by Web2 apps, such as Twitter with its Blue subscription service. Twitter CEO Elon Musk has raised concerns about Apple’s cut and ultimately increased the price of subscriptions on iOS.

Currently, Apple prohibits apps from directing users to external web portals for payment or accepting external payments. However, legal challenges may prompt the tech giant to reconsider these restrictions.

Despite the higher prices resulting from the inclusion of fees, Manghani believes that the opportunity to tap into Apple’s massive user base makes this effort worthwhile. She views the integration of Apple Pay as a significant step forward for Stepn in its mission to onboard 100 million more users into the Web3 space.


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