Apple Inc. is reportedly working with Boku to bring a carrier billing option to iTunes users in Russia.
The move comes shortly after Apple began a similar process in Germany through a partnership with Telefonica's O2.
Apple iPhone users in Russia can now choose "mobile billing" as a payment option when purchasing digital music, books, games or apps through iTunes, according to news reports. Users provide their mobile phone numbers to add the charges to their monthly airtime bill.
Neither Apple nor Boku released any information or responded to inquiries about the offering, which CNBC and others reported as a "quiet" or "secret" payment development in the country.
Mobile phone systems such as M-Pesa in Kenya and parts of India have used mobile billing or mobile minutes as a form of payment, but the moves in Germany and Russia mark Apple's first ventures into carrier billing through its iTunes network. Other digital content providers, such as Sony, already supported carrier billing as a payment option.
In Russia, Apple is working with Beeline, the third-largest mobile operator in the country. Boku has listed both Beeline and O2 as implementing its carrier billing option for subscribers buying digital goods via mobile phones.
The service is different from Apple Pay, which has operated as a contactless or in-app payment option using traditional payment cards stored in a Wallet app on recent iPhone models. Apple Pay is not yet available in Russia.
Boku's most recent technology upgrade is Phone-on-File, a cross-platform billing payment technology designed to mimic a credit card payment.
For the past year, San Francisco-based Boku has been working with European mobile network operators to advance the carrier billing payment option to physical goods. Regulatory constraints in Europe made it difficult in the past for carrier billing to advance beyond the digital content sales market.