“Apple’s gradual rollout of carrier billing that started last year with Germany and Russia has reached Japan, where iPhone users can now buy mobile games and charge them to their phone bill, according to sources familiar with the matter,” Ari Levy reports for CNBC. “Starting Tuesday, customers of KDDI, Japan’s second-largest mobile phone company, have the option in the Apple App Store to pay by mobile, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the deal hasn’t been announced. Japanese consumers who don’t have credit or debit cards can participate in the mobile economy.”

“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,” Levy reports. “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.”

“Having seen positive results from its initial deals, Apple has several more countries in the near-term pipeline, sources said,” Levy reports. “Carrier billing has distinct advantages over plastic. Consumers are already paying their phone bills every month, so it’s much easier to add items with the simple tap of a button than it is to type in information from a credit card or link to a PayPal account.”

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MacDailyNews Take: Reducing friction is smart business.