Apple rolls out carrier billing in slow response to Google Play success

Written by on August 19, 2016 in Billing & Payments with 0 Comments

Transfer money by smart phoneApple 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, CNBCsaid. 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.

Carrier billing represents another battlefield between Apple and its chief rival Google, and one where the tech giants are taking very different approaches. Google Play, the app store on Android devices, has been signing up as many global carriers as possible and now has mobile billing availability in 45 markets, including deals with Japan’s top three phone companies.

By contrast, Apple has been quite deliberate in its expansion, starting in Germany with Telefonica’s O2 in late October, followed by VimpelCom’s Beeline unit in Russia five weeks later. On Monday, the rollout hit Switzerland through a deal with Swisscom and Far EasTone in Taiwan.

“Something previously reserved for Android users is now available to millions of Apple customers via Swisscom,” the Bern-based carrier said in a press release. “As a result of an extensive collaboration, they can as of now easily pay for digital content in the App Store and on iTunes, Apple Music, iBooks and Apple TV via their mobile phone bills.”

Having seen positive results from its initial deals, Apple has several more countries in the near-term pipeline, sources said. With iPhone sales slowing, Apple is touting its growth opportunity in software and services, and the revenue potential from games, music subscriptions, books and cloud storage.

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