Apple IAP and Marketplace Currency

How Apple’s pricing works for digital goods and designing the Touchgram Currency within those constraints.

Andy Dent
Published in
5 min readJun 7, 2021


Coming soon for Touchgram is one of the most important features of the app — the marketplace where you can buy and sell digital goods. These range from single images or sounds all the way to fully-composed greeting cards just waiting for you to customise.

We have to sell those using Apple’s In-App Purchase (IAP) system.

Developers live somewhat in fear of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines which rule what’s allowed in apps and the websites associated with them. The payments section includes these very clear and strict rules.

For our purposes, there are two key points:

  1. If people are paying for a digital good it must be via IAP.
  2. You can’t create any kind of in-game gold or other digital currency and sell that elsewhere then let people use it in the app.

You also can’t just arbitrarily pick prices in different markets. Apple have a massive table of pricing tiers — for a given digital good you pick one of the rows. (Note that a single digital good might be something like bag of 20 coins.)

Portion of Apple pricing tiers showing the Alternate Tiers

The prices across a given tier are basically the same — if you look at the USD conversion rate and add in any local VAT or GST then you come close to that figure. There’s generally no attempt to adjust prices for affordability in different countries.

Down the bottom there are two Alternate Tiers which vary pricing in different countries, giving you a way to have a cheaper offering. The green items in the table above show where the Alternate tier price is cheaper than the original Tier 1 price.

The Touchgram Marketplace Basic Math

The core concept seems simple, ignoring the IAP tiers for a minute. Note that in this article I use the term Artist but that’s not necessarily a painter. The marketplace will include digital images but also sounds, particle emitters (think…



Andy Dent

Touchgram interactive messaging CEO/Founder looking for art, sound & advertising partners. Martial artist. Parent of adults. Coder & designer 30+yrs. Australian