In Japan, Apple has unexpectedly announced iTunes Pass
, a new service based on iOS' Passbook app. People wanting to refill their iTunes Store account can take an iPhone (or iPod touch) into a Japanese Apple Store and buy credit from a clerk, who then scans in the amount via Passbook. The money should be available immediately.
Although iTunes Pass currently appears to be exclusive Japan, the website for the feature mentions that it's "not available in Brazil, China and Turkey." That may suggest that it will soon appear in other countries, and is simply in a pilot phase at the moment. Any glitches will need to be ironed out before coming to markets with many more Apple Stores, such as the US, Canada, and the UK.
Passbook is normally oriented towards storing tickets, gift cards, and coupons which can be displayed or scanned at shops and other venues. iTunes Pass represents a kind of reversal, and may tie into future mobile payment technology plans