Vodafone Group stopped offering direct billing to customers buying Google Play apps and in-app content in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

A statement on the carrier billing section of the content portal said: “Vodafone is no longer supported for direct carrier billing on Google Play.”  Vodafone also confirmed the change on its UK support site.

Individual users confirmed to Android Police that the ability for customers to charge purchases to their bill or prepaid credit is no longer available in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

No explanation has been given by Vodafone or Google.

The change means just one operator in each of the UK (T-Mobile), Spain (Movistar) and Italy (Wind) now offer direct operator billing for the store.

By doing away with the need to pay with cards, direct billing makes it easier to purchase apps and content and encourages users to spend more.

Vodafone introduced the functionality to Google Play’s predecessor, Android Market, in August 2011. Germany and the UK were the first two markets to go live with the technology.