Apple has signed up pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS for its upcoming mobile payment system, according to an unnamed source cited by Re/code. If true, Apple could roll out that system with as many as 15,000 retail locations.
The leaked report comes just days before a media event Apple has planned for September 9th at the Flint Center in Cupertino. The company is expected to announce large screen iPhone 6 models, a wearable dubbed the iWatch by the media, and the inclusion of NFC in both product lines to support a mobile payment system.
If Apple is going to announce a mobile payment system, the company is very likely to have retail partners lined up for that announcement. This would fit with the company's track record for announcing new services.
While there's no way to know if Re/code's source has it right—he or she was described as "a person briefed on the plans"—it's also impossible to know if those two chains are the only such partners Apple lines up. Neither is a high end retailer, but both are visited frequently by shoppers who make many comparatively small purchases.
That could be just the ticket for making Apple's service an actual part of people's lives, rather than the gee-whiz gimmickry of the competing services that have come before it. Google Wallet and other third party mobile payment systems have gained little or no traction, making this market ripe for Apple's picking.
Apple's NFC/mobile payment system plans came quite late in this product rumor cycle, but they have gained significant steam. The addition of specific retail partners adds even more weight, in my opinion, making it a near-certainty.