The day may be finally coming when you don’t need a debit or credit card to pay for purchases on iTunes. In fact, if you are on German cellular carrier O2, that day might have already come. Apple has quietly turned on carrier billing within iTunes for O2 customers in Germany, according to a recent article from TechCrunch. Options have existed for a while in various countries and with different carriers to charge iTunes Gift Cards to your cellular phone bill, but that’s considerably different from direct carrier billing.
Direct carrier billing means consumers can link up their phone numbers to pay for apps and other iTunes purchases. This bypasses the need for a credit or debit card, or maybe even a bank account, since the purchases are charged directly to consumers’ mobile bills. If you’re an O2 customer but don’t have a contract, you add a prepaid amount to the phone that the charges are deducted from.
A spokesperson for Telefónica Germany, the parent company for O2, told TechCrunch about the plans for rolling out carrier billing.
Payment via the O2 phone bill is now available for Apple Music, iTunes, App Store and iBooks Store Purchases. The service is gradually being rolled out and will be available for all O2 customers (prepaid and postpaid) in Germany by the beginning of November 2015.
This could be especially good news for consumers in emerging economies, where card use is much lower than in more mature economies. Many consumers in emerging economies don’t even have bank accounts, and instead can use their phones as a proxy for both. Mobile users can top up their iPhones with cash at shops, and then use carrier billing to buy apps, music, books, and so forth on their handsets.