Vodafone has extended its deal to use direct operator billing from the Android Market app store to cover all of its markets after switching the system on in Germany and the UK last week, according to Bloomberg.

The system allows customers buying apps in the Android store to charge them directly to their phone bills or prepay accounts, removing the need for credit cards. This is likely to encourage more people to download applications, fuelling the use of additional data services and the uptake of smartphones.

Vodafone commercial development director Tobin Ireland told Bloomberg in an interview that the company has agreed a deal “that covers the global footprint” for Android and intends to secure similar deals for other application stores.

Vodafone said last week that direct billing will initially only be available for customers who have bought their devices through the operator’s own online and retail channels.

Following the announcement of the service’s launch in Germany and the UK last week, Vodafone said in a statement: “This evolution in Android app payment greatly improves the user’s purchase experience and consequently their likelihood of completing a sale.”

The company added that the service will allow developers to target paid-for apps at consumers not wanting to use credit cards to pay for products on their mobile device, something the company said was the case in 90 percent of the market.

Vodafone also claims that mobile phone users who pay for apps via their mobile phone bill buy twice as many as those who use credit cards. The network already offers it for Nokia and BlackBerry apps in the UK. Tobin Ireland said that since turning on operator billing for BlackBerry apps, customers had installed 100 per cent more and paid for 70 per cent more.

Back in July, Vodafone launched its own brand content channel in Android Market – something that no other European operator had done previously – in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, with Greece, Ireland and Portugal to follow.