Services & Software

Google Wallet co-founding engineer jumps ship to Square

Rob von Behren recently changed his LinkedIn profile to reflect departure from the Web giant -- a move he told NFC Times was unexpected.

One of the co-founding engineers of Google's mobile-payments platform has left the company for mobile-payments company Square.

One of Google Wallet's co-founding engineers has left the Web giant for a job at mobile-payments processor Square.

Rob von Behren, who had worked at Google for more than eight years and on the NFC-based Google Wallet since 2009, recently changed his LinkedIn profile to indicate his new employment at Square. In an e-mail statement to NFC Times, which first noticed and reported the move, von Behren said the departure was unexpected.

"When I left the Google Wallet project in January, I fully expected to stop working in payments but to remain at Google," he told NFC Times. "After meeting the team at Square, however, I decided to do the opposite. Square is doing some great things in the payment space. They have a strong leadership team and a culture that fosters innovation."

Von Behren declined to say what his new position at Square would be, although the move suggests that Square is considering expansion into payments based on NFC (near-field communication) -- technology that allows users to tap or wave their phones to make purchases.

Meanwhile, NFC-based Google Wallet launched last May but has been plagued by security concerns, minimal consumer use, and few carrier and retail partners willing to support the new technology.

In February, Google temporarily took part of the Google Wallet application offline while the company figured out how to fix a security issue. A pair of hacks discovered that if a device's screen wasn't locked that someone finding the phone could reset the PIN and gain access to whatever money was left on the Google prepaid card.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle to wider adoption is the fact that six months after Google released the app, the company still has only one carrier partner -- Sprint Nextel -- and only two devices that are NFC-enabled: the Samsung Nexus S 4G on Sprint and the Galaxy Nexus, which can be used on AT&T's 3G network in the U.S.