Google has partnered with three major US mobile carriers to pre-install its mobile payment application on smartphones, as the internet major looks to counter Apple's growth in the mobile payment market.

"We're excited to announce that we're working with AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, as well as their mobile payments company Softcard, to help more Android users get the benefits of tap and pay," said Ariel Bardin, Vice President of Payments at Google.

"Under this relationship, the Google Wallet app, including the tap and pay functionality, will come pre-installed on Android phones (running KitKat or higher) sold by these carriers in the US later this year. We're also acquiring some exciting technology and intellectual property from Softcard to make Google Wallet better."

Google introduced a tap and pay feature in its wallet app in 2011. The feature is enabled on devices with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

"Over the years, we've received great feedback from people who use this feature and we've continued investing to make it easy and secure for more people to pay with their phones. A big part of this is working with other innovators in the industry to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores," Bardin added.

Android is already holding the largest share in the smartphone market, and the significant partnership with three of the top four telecom service providers could mean lower business for Apple in the mobile payments market.

In its latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, Apple has promoted its own mobile payment technology called Apple Pay, through which iPhone owners may pay for goods and services.

Samsung earlier said it was buying mobile payments firm LoopPay, which provides mobile wallet solutions that have the potential to work in about 90% of existing point-of-sale terminals, with no investment in new infrastructure.

US mobile proximity payments, defined as payments made with a smartphone at the point of sale in place of a credit card or cash, totalled $3.5bn (£2.26bn) in 2014, according to eMarketer. The research firm expects the figure to increase significantly to $27.5bn in 2016 and further to $118.01bn in 2018.

The number of US mobile proximity payment users will increase to 36.2 million by 2016 and 57 million by 2018 from 15.9 million in 2014.