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Apple adds carrier billing as option for iTunes purchases in Germany

Apple is now reportedly offering carrier billing as a way of paying for iTunes purchases, beginning with the German branch of wireless carrier O2.

Some O2 subscribers can now enter their phone number into Mac, iOS, or Windows iTunes payment information instead of a credit or debit card, TechCrunch noted on Tuesday. Subsequent payments for services like Apple Music, the iTunes Store, or the App Store will be added to a prepaid or contract phone bill.

In a statement, O2 owner Telefonica confirmed that the option is "gradually" being rolled out to subscribers, and should be available to all German O2 customers by the start of November.

Sources told TechCrunch that Apple was recently talking with a company called Bango about carrier billing services. Bango has reportedly partnered with every other major app store except for Apple's, and collaborated with Telefonica for years.

When Apple first launched the iPhone, it deliberately turned away from carrier billing, which was an industry standard at the time. That allowed the company to keep more control, including a larger share of revenue.

Implementing the option could make Apple's online services more appealing in countries where cash payments are more common, Germany among them. There's no indication of where iTunes carrier billing might come next, though Telefonica has some 340 million subscribers spread across markets such as Spain, the U.K., and Brazil.