Scratch-cards are fun. Inputting lengthy serial codes, less so. We're not sure why Apple's testing this out in Japan first, but iTunes Pass marks another effort in the direction towards smoothing mobile payments -- something that country knows plenty about. Spotted on Apple's Japanese iTunes page by 9to5Mac, the company describes how users can now deposit money directly to their iTunes account inside bricks-and-mortar stores. Apple sales assistants will scan the Passbook card (seen above) and the payment will go through then and there, ready to be used instantly. The Passbook app can already be installed from the iOS iTunes Store app in Japan and as 9to5Mac notes, with only eight stores, the country could be the easiest way to gauge the service before deciding whether to take it global. Oh yeah, and it's completely different to Apple's 2009 iTunes Pass.

Update: The new Passbook card has now appeared in the US.

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iTunes Pass links your credit to iOS' Passbook app (update: now available in the US)