Apple today debuted its new iTunes Pass service in its Japanese retail stores, allowing customers to purchase iTunes Store credit directly without the need for physical gift cards, reports 9to5Mac.
A photo about the feature from Apple’s Japanese website (Google Translate)
To use the service, customers add a new iTunes Pass inside of the existing Passbook application found in iOS, and then locate a Specialist inside an Apple Retail Store. Once the iTunes Pass is presented to the Specialist, the customer can say how much money they want added, which is then instantly transferred to an iTunes account.
It is not known when the new service will be rolled out to Apple Retail Stores worldwide, however it is likely that the company is testing the program in Japan ahead of a larger rollout. In 2012, Apple enabled users to store Apple Store gift cards in Passbook, and also allowed users to email Passbook enabled gift card to friends through the app.
Earlier this year, it was also reported that Apple was working on its own mobile payments service, which could be similar to iTunes Pass. According to that report, the company’s mobile payment solution would be integrated directly into iOS, allowing people to use their devices to purchase physical goods on the web and in physical retail stores.
Update 1:52 AM: As spotted by iGeneration, the bottom of Apple’s Japanese iTunes Gifts page (Google Translate) says that iTunes Pass is not available in Brazil, China, and Turkey. This may indicate that the service may be set up to launch worldwide shortly.