Apple Defeats Antitrust Case Over Crypto Policies

Siding with Apple, a federal judge has dismissed an antitrust complaint alleging that the company conspired with Venmo, Cash App, and Google Pay to block decentralized cryptocurrency apps from the app store.

In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California ruled that the allegations in the complaint, even if true, wouldn't prove an antitrust violation.

The dismissal order allows the plaintiffs to amend their allegations and bring the complaint again, but Chhabria expressed skepticism that a new effort would be successful.

“It is difficult to see how amendment could salvage this case,” he wrote.

The decision comes in a lawsuit brought last year by users of Venmo and Cash App who claimed that they paid higher fees to use those apps due to Apple's rules regarding cryptocurrency apps.

The plaintiffs specifically pointed to App Store Guideline 3.1.5, which says: “Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered only in countries or regions where the app has appropriate licensing and permissions to provide a cryptocurrency exchange.”



Apple urged Chhabria to throw out the lawsuit at an early stage, arguing that the claims were too speculative.

“The complaint rests on an implausible theory that an alleged agreement restricting decentralized cryptocurrency technology results in higher Venmo and Cash App transaction and service fees,” the company argued in a motion filed last month.

Apple also said the central allegation against it was false.

“There are apps in the App Store that facilitate decentralized cryptocurrency transactions,” the company wrote.

The company added that its guideline regarding crypto apps “does not prohibit apps that facilitate decentralized cryptocurrency transactions,” but merely requires “proof-of-licensing criteria for apps that facilitate cryptocurrency transactions on an exchange.”

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