I Am Jonathan’s Starbucks Card: A Social Payment Experiment (With Free Coffee)

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Jonathan’s Starbucks card lives in Jonathan Stark’s wallet. You can download a copy of the card (shown here) and, when there is money on it, scan it at any Starbucks to buy coffee and, as far as anyone can tell, Jonathan doesn’t care. Crazy, you say? Sure, it’s crazy… like a fox.

Jonathan Stark is a programmer and writer and has been experimenting with “social sharing of physical goods using digital currency on mobile phones.” Similar to the old Italian tradition of Caffe Pagato, Jonathan wants you to use the cash on his card to buy your own coffee. He also wants you to tweet about your experience and, if you’re really cool, put a little money on the card.

He has written an API to access the current card balance and he has a Tweetstream that tweets out current numebrs. As of this writing there is about $180 (UPDATE: Someone grabbed $150 off the card just now) on the card so you can probably hit a the cafe today on Jonathan’s dime.

Want to help the cause? Here’s how to add money to the card.

1. Visit starbucks.com/card
2. Click on the “Reload A Card” tab
3. Enter the card number visible in the picture (6061006913522430)
4. Click “Reload This Card” in the left sidebar
5. Choose a reload amount
6. Choose a payment method

I think the most interesting aspect of this whole project is in the innate suggestion of trust and the expectation that many will “do the right” thing in the homogenous world that is the Internet. Sadly, I suspect the card will soon be tapped and, barring regular infusions, greed will win the day. I also wonder how long it will take before Starbucks shuts this down because of… ummm… because it undermines… um… because it’s anarchistic?

You can grab your copy of the card here. Happy sipping.