Apple is starting to allow iPhone users to buy apps, music, and more through carrier billing. The option has been appearing for O2 subscribers in Germany, according to TechCrunch, and O2 says that it will be available to all prepaid and postpaid customers in Germany by the beginning of next month. Apple declined to comment on whether carrier billing will be rolled out to other carriers and regions, but this is still the first sign that Apple will consider it at all. Up until today, Apple hasn't offered carrier billing as an option, despite it being broadly available on Android phones and a common payment method in markets where credit cards have less of a presence.
You can buy apps without a credit card
Carrier billing allows a person to make online purchases from their phone and have it show up on their next phone bill or deducted from their prepaid phone account. It's a convenience, as it puts multiple purchases on a single bill and doesn't require that the phone owner have a credit card or a bank account. According to TechCrunch, Apple's implementation allows O2 customers to make iTunes and App Store purchases, as well as sign up for Apple Music subscriptions through carrier billing. While that benefits Apple because it means more people can buy from its stores, there's a solid chance that O2 is taking a cut of those purchases — and that's probably why Apple has been reluctant to add carrier billing before now.
Though we don't know where Apple will expand carrier billing to next — or even if it will expand carrier billing — the payment method could certainly become much more widespread. Google currently offers carrier billing in over 30 countries, including the US, where it's available through AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular.