Apple's iTunes Store in China received a major upgrade this week. The store now accepts payment in the local currency, the renminbi (RMB), and lets users replenish their iTunes account using bank cards from over a dozen Chinese banks.
Previously, the Chinese iTunes store only accepted US dollars which made it difficult for Chinese customers to make purchases. Most iOS owners set up their iTunes account and only downloaded free apps. Now Chinese customers can add money in 50, 100, 300 and 500 yuan increments.
Not only will this bring in additional revenue for Apple, it may also curb iOS app piracy which is booming thanks to apps that help iOS owners circumvent Apple's App Store restrictions. This change may also cut back on "black card" usage by Chinese iOS owners. These cards use compromised credit card accounts to add money to iTunes accounts.
In the past, China has been the source of illegal iTunes activity. In 2009, Chinese hackers broke the iTunes gift card algorithm and flooded the market with fraudulent cards.