Google's Android may have more smartphones in circulation, but Apple's iPhone is responsible for the bulk of the spending from mobile wallets.
Apple's iPhone handsets generate "the lion's share" of commerce at the point sale compared to Android users, according to new a study from Javelin Strategy & Research. Nearly double the number of iPhone owners made mobile proximity payments over a 30-day period at 17%, compared with Android users at 9%, the study revealed.
However, this trend may not reflect the mainstream spread of mobile wallets as much as it does the habits of the early adopters who rush to buy the latest Apple device. "Apple product owners exhibit high spending behavior, but they are extremely loyal to the brand," said Daniel Van Dyke, payments analyst for Javelin and co-author of the new research.
The introduction of Apple Pay late last year set off a "Big Bang" in the mobile payment landscape because it accelerated consumer education and set off a string of new developments and consolidations in the industry, he said.
"We know that iPhone owners tend to make more purchases through their mobile devices, but that was uniquely pronounced with proximity payments," Van Dyke said.
IPhone owners average 10 purchases vs. eight for Android owners annually, with a median purchase of $20 for Apple Pay vs. $15 for wallets on Android devices.
Javelin's research on mobile proximity payments those at the point of sale through Near Field Communication or similar means compared current data with that from surveys conducted over the past three years, averaging about 3,200 consumers per survey.
Research revealed that 26.5 million consumers made mobile purchases at the point of sale in 2014, averaging eight purchases at $18.82 each, or about $150 annually. In all, consumers spent nearly $4 billion using their mobile devices at the point of sale last year, a growth of $961 million over 2013.
With Apple Pay becoming more widespread on Apple devices, the research statistics "really portend well for Apple's success in achieving consumer and merchant scale with this mobile wallet," Van Dyke added.
Other recent industry studies have also indicated Apple Pay is on a steady rise, correlating with iPhone sales and expansion of merchant acceptance of the mobile pay system.
The studies generally support Apple CEO Tim Cook's declaration that two-thirds of all U.S. contactless payment volume is now coming through Apple Pay.
However, a Federal Reserve Board study indicated that mobile payments did not gain much momentum in 2014, partly because Apple introduced Apple Pay so late in the year.
But this year will see mobile proximity payments pick up steam because merchants are putting the proper hardware in place at the point of sale as part of their EMV upgrades.
Through Apple and upcoming wallets such as Samsung Pay and CurrentC, mobile payment at the point of sale can expect growth to $7.3 billion in 2015, or 82% over last year. By 2019, mobile proximity payments are expected to account for $54 billion.
Even though Javelin's revenue forecast is conservative compared to some other forecasts, it does acknowledge that mobile payments are expanding, Van Dyke said. This trend is in spite of the recent breakup of some mobile wallet efforts, such as the U.S. telcos' Softcard and the U.K. telcos' Weve. Google bought Softcard's technology ahead of that wallet's shutdown, and O2 bought out its partners to take Weve in-house.
"There are fewer players and each player remaining as the dust is settling are generally more efficient and more capable of achieving broad consumer scale," he added.
"Moneyhawks," or early adopters who spend money and digitally engage consistently with financial services technology, are leading the charge in mobile proximity payments. Two thirds of consumers falling into that category have made proximity purchases in the last 90 days, the research said, and 74% of those said they would use wearable technology to make mobile payments.
That revelation bodes well for the recently released Apple Watch, but more importantly, many loyal Apple followers fall into the moneyhawk category, Van Dyke said.
Research numbers back that assessment, with 11% of Phone 6 and 6 Plus owners saying they have used Apple Pay in-store, while nearly 40% said they were very likely to do so. Only 15% fell into the category of saying they were either "somewhat unlikely" or "not at all likely" to initiate an Apple Pay payment.
Another good sign for Apple Pay is that the research indicates most consumers prefer NFC or QR codes for proximity payments, but that is also good news for Google Wallet and Samsung Pay, which use NFC.
Starbucks bucks this trend by steadily improving mobile payment adoption with a system based on bar codes instead of NFC.
Ultimately, mobile wallet providers have to "achieve beyond checkout what no one else has been able to do so far," Van Dyke said. "They have to develop products that provide comparison shopping tools, gift and loyalty card organization and clear explanations of how biometrics and tokenization keep the payments secure."