Apple Stores in Japan now allow credit top-ups via Passbook

Japan previewing what could be a warmup for Apple's own payment system debut
Apple Stores in Japan now allow credit top-ups via Passbook

Imagine being able to go into an App Store and just having your iTunes credit topped up at the store with just an app and swipe.

That could be an iOS user's new reality soon but for now, it's already happening in Japan. No more only being able to buy gift cards; the iTunes Pass feature basically installs a new pass inside the iOS passbook application.

What happens then is that an Apple Store employee scans the pass and ta-da! Your credit is applied to your account for your iTunes, App Store and Book Store.

Apple mobile payments next?

Apple Stores in Japan now allow credit top-ups via Passbook

The iOS Passbook hasn't exactly caught on as yet though Apple is expanding on what it can be used for. Most recently Passbook stored iTunes festival tickets as well as WWDC tickets for attendees. Useful? Certainly, but rather situational.

Previously Japan was a closed market to foreign phone makers but now that Apple can sell iPhones in the country, it seems Apple doesn't ever want to leave. Hence, choosing it to launch the iTunes Pass credit reload feature at Apple Stores instead of, say, the US.

It would be just another reason for people to frequent Apple Stores if they could just go to the counter, wave their iPhone and pay to get their credit topped up. Also, it would work out better if people buying new devices could just create App Store accounts, add credit and then return home with their devices to download more software with preloaded credit. Customers get convenience and Apple of course makes more money.

Rumours are that Apple is preparing its own mobile payments service that would integrate with Touch ID and Passbook. No word on when this new iTunes Pass will be available elsewhere but we're betting it will probably roll out in the US next after Japan.