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A Shift in Apple's Crypto Stance with Stepn Introducing In-App Digital Asset Trading

Stepn users will now be able to purchase, sell, and trade the game's NFT sneakers directly within the app.
According to a Stepn executive, "This is the most significant event in crypto right now, and many people are unaware."

Just a week ago, Axie Infinity, the once immensely popular web3 game, declared its availability on Apple's App Store. This signaled a possible shift in the influential tech giant's stance towards permitting blockchain-centric mobile games on its iPhones.

Stepn, an Australia-based, blockchain-driven fitness application that rewards users with crypto, has made an even more significant announcement. The company declared that its users can now trade Stepn's digital assets without the necessity to leave the app or use an external marketplace.

"This is a momentous step," stated Shiti Manghani, Stepn's COO, in an interview with The Block. "This is an unprecedented move. Internally, we believe this is the most significant event happening in the crypto space, and it's still flying under the radar for many."

In addition, Stepn revealed a new integration that will allow users to acquire digital assets using traditional debit and credit cards connected to Apple Pay.

Apple's App Store has had policies around the purchasing and selling of in-game assets, which some companies have deemed hostile. One of the most debated issues has been Apple's requirement for app developers to surrender 30% of transaction revenues, a significant cost for blockchain apps aiming to facilitate the trading of digital assets, some of which can fetch high sums.

Stepn outperforms Axie Infinity
Stepn, downloaded millions of times, allows users to purchase digital sneaker NFTs and earn token rewards through physical activities like walking, running, or jogging. Each NFT pair of shoes possesses unique attributes that impact users' ability to earn rewards.

iPhone users wanting to buy the sneaker NFTs need to buy in-app credits which can be exchanged for the digital assets. These NFT sneakers can also be purchased or sold for cryptocurrency on Stepn's marketplace.

Stepn stated that all these transactions will be feasible on the iPhone without exiting the app. iPhone users can access the company's marketplace within Stepn's app.

This diverges from the agreement Sky Mavis arranged with Apple for Axie Infinity, which does not feature in-app links to its NFT marketplace.

Rising User Numbers
Despite millions of downloads, Stepn's monthly active user numbers have been declining, recently dropping to around 500,000, admitted Manghani. The team hopes the Apple integration will bolster user numbers. As of last year's end, Stepn reported almost five million registered users who had walked or ran almost 70 million miles.

Though paying a 30% fee to Apple for in-app transactions isn't ideal, Manghani believes the chance to draw in users from Apple's ecosystem is too tempting to dismiss. However, reaching this agreement was no easy task.

"Collaborating with Apple has been a game-changer for our app," Manghani said. "However, it hasn't been a smooth journey. For every green light we received, we've faced many rejections. It's been a long, sleepless journey... it took us months."

Stepn was founded in 2021 by Satoshi Labs, and its past investors include Sequoia Capital India, Alameda Research, and Santiago Santos, a former ParaFi Capital partner.




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