The minor change in language suggests that many of Apple's Apple Pay partners will not be able to implement Apple Pay support in the last week of 2014, instead rolling out support in the first months of 2015. Many retailers that have chosen to implement Apple Pay may still be working to train employees, update hardware, and swap out point-of-sale systems, leading to variable launch dates.
Just in the last few weeks, multiple partners who were initially listed under the "Coming later this year" category managed to implement support before the end of the year deadline, including Walt Disney World, which will begin accepting Apple Pay later this week, and Ticketmaster, which updated its app to support Apple Pay on Monday.
On Apple's site, retail partners listed under the "Coming soon" headings now include ACME, Albertsons, Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. Walt Disney World continues to be listed, as Apple Pay will not be available until December 24. Upcoming app partners include Starbucks, StubHub, and Tickets.com, with Ticketmaster continuing to be listed despite implementing support earlier this week.
Since its October 20 launch, Apple Pay has proven to be popular with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users. Despite only being available for six weeks, Apple Pay was responsible for 1 percent of digital payment dollars in November, with the most money being spent at Whole Foods, Walgreens, and McDonald's.
Apple Pay is currently limited to the United States, but according to comments from Visa and a recent job posting, Apple has an Apple Pay team in London working on bringing the payments service to new countries in 2015.