Apple Inc's online store has started accepting payments made in Chinese yuan, to gain a further foothold in the world's biggest Internet market.
All applications of ITunes in China have shown the price of RMB.
The application program prompts the customer to pay in RMB.
The App Store, which sells software applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad, started accepting the currency last week in an unannounced move.
"The service has been there since last Friday. It's really good news for our customers and local application developers," said a spokeswoman for Apple China, but she declined to comment on the timing of the move.
The App Store previously listed prices and accepted payment in US dollars, requiring consumers to use payment cards with access to foreign exchange.
The online store will now accept yuan credit and debit cards issued by more than 20 banks, according to a customer services representative.
Because Chinese users had to previously use overseas credit cards to pay for applications, identity thieves stole credit card information used to obtain Apple IDs registered to overseas customers and then sold the information to Chinese customers.
When Apple discovered that the Chinese accounts were fake, the company blocked the IDs and returned the money to the genuine cardholders. That move is alleged to have resulted in Chinese application developers failing to be paid for downloads of their applications by people using the fake IDs.
Diehard fans in China, which has an online population of more than 500 million, have been known to line up for days to get their hands on the latest Apple products.
Analysts said allowing payment in yuan might not provide a large revenue boost for the company, because customers can also download pirated applications for free.
"Users who do not want to spend money in the first place will not spend money simply because you allow them to pay in yuan," said Sun Peilin, a Beijing-based analyst with the consultancy Analysys International.
The California-based Apple has recently expanded aggressively in China, opening its first store in Hong Kong and its third in Shanghai in September, bringing the total to six on the mainland and Hong Kong.
China has become Apple's fastest-growing region, with revenue of US$4.5 billion in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, a figure only surpassed by the United States.