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Apple opens iTunes carrier billing to Japan, expected to bring option to more countries soon

By Roger Fingas

Apple has launched carrier billing options in Japan, giving residents there an alternative to using credit or gift cards when making purchases from iTunes, Apple Music, or the App Store.

At the moment the option is restricted to customers of local carrier KDDI, CNBC said. Purchases will automatically appear on person's monthly phone bill.

Apple introduced carrier billing to Taiwan and Switzerland on Monday. Up until that point only German and Russian customers had access.

The company may be feeling pressure to expand faster, since its main platform rival -- Google -- already has carrier billing for digital purchases in 45 markets, including all three major Japanese carriers. Indeed CNBC sources claimed that Apple has several more countries lined up in the near future, without specifying which ones.

While Apple's American and Canadian customers are used to paying with credit cards, in many markets that payment method is rare. Many German retail businesses, for instance, prefer cash. In Japan and South Korea, carrier billing is said to represent 70 percent of Google Play purchases.

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