Pay (by) phone: Andreesen’s Square regrets, plus Google Wallet, iWallet, PayPal, retailers

One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capitalists, Marc Andreessen, said in a “Bloomberg West” TV interview (video) Thursday that he missed the boat on Square. The San Francisco mobile-payments company founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame says it is now processing $4 billion in payments a year, and its test in New York City taxis is getting going.

“The biggest [regret] that we’re still kicking ourselves over is probably Square,” said Andreessen, whose VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz, recently invested in another payments company called Clover. “I think Jack Dorsey is one of the most phenomenal founder-CEOs in the industry and we probably made a huge mistake on that one when he first came in. We overthought the deal and we probably just should have said Jack Dorsey, check. And write the check.”

With that in mind, here’s a look at other recent developments in the mobile-payments market:

Google is reportedly pushing apps makers to use its payments service, Google Wallet. Reuters says Google has warned apps makers that use other, supposedly cheaper services such as PayPal that they could be kicked out of the Android app store if they don’t switch over. Some apps makers quoted in the article say they are willing to pay to play: “Without having to choose your payment option it’s closer to the one-click experience of the Apple iOS platform,” Charles Hudson of Bionic Panda Games, a San Francisco social-gaming company, told Reuters.

The Wallet push isn’t surprising given Google’s announcement earlier this week that Android Market was turning into Google Play, a store where people can find the giant company’s many offerings, much like Apple’s iTunes. As Mike Swift of the Mercury News reported, analysts called the move a crucial step for Google amid its competition with Apple and, both masters of retail platforms. But inevitably, Google’s moves lead to questions about whether a company that has touted its openness is turning into another walled garden. In what he called a meditation about Google, the company he has written a book about, John Battelle pondered earlier this week if Google was becoming like Apple and Facebook.

• Speaking of wallets and of Apple, the Cupertino maker of iDevices has been awarded a patent for something called iWallet, which would tie credit-card payments to users’ iTunes accounts, Patently Apple reported earlier this week.

• PayPal, an online-payments pioneer, continues its offline adventures. Its latest foray is into bars and restaurants, in a partnership with an app called Tabbedout. GigaOm reports that in certain places, paying with PayPal will be on option on the app, which lets diners and imbibers simply pay and walk out.

Eve Mitchell of the Contra Costa Times wrote last month about the eBay division’s mobile-phone payments test at Home Depot stores.

• Retailers are getting into the action, too. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Target, Walmart and other retailers are working together on a mobile-payment system. They are the newest entrants into what is growing to be a crowded field, already populated by big tech companies, financial institutions, wireless companies and more.


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