Can the whole Internet share a single Starbucks card? Jonathan Stark thinks so, and he’s offering his Starbucks card up for the sharing.

The programmer is offering up a digital copy of his Starbucks card for the masses, which you can download and use to buy yourself a cup of joe. In addition to offering up a way to pay for your coffee, he also asks you to help the card’s balance when it starts to get low,by throwing a few bucks back on to share with others.

Stark has written an API to access his current card balance, where it is tweeted in real-time at this account.

The idea, if nothing else, is a very interesting social experiment and relies on the majority of people who use the card to be pretty honest and just use it to buy one drink. It also assumes that a steady influx of people will be givers in addition to being takers, and kick a few dollars into the communal coffee kitty.

Looking through the Twitter stream for the card, it looks like for the most part people are being pretty honest. Outside of one $150 purchase on the card, most purchases seem to be the equivalent of one drink, and every few drinks someone has been throwing in some cash to keep the card afloat. In the past half hour alone there have been 21 different transactions to the card, and as of this writing we’re still looking at about an $8 balance.

Personally, I think the key to the card’s success is for the balance on the card to stick under $10. That amount is just large enough for someone to get a drink, but not large enough for it to be worth it to head to your local Starbucks and try to buy a high-dollar item to take advantage. As long as someone is there to add another $10 when things get low, I think we’ll see the card kicking for a bit longer.

I actually tried the card out this morning and managed to hit the register right when the card hit zero for the first time today. However,  it was back up to $25 in just a few minutes.

Got a little extra cash burning a hole in your pocket?

  1. Visit
  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

Assuming Jonathan has his card registered with Starbucks, he’s probably racking up free coffee as well. Starbucks currently offers a free drink for every 15 purchases a person makes on his or her registered Starbucks card. At close to thirty transactions per hour, Jonathan is looking at a pretty sizable amount of free coffee coming his way.

What do you think? Will Jonathan’s card be able to survive?

[via TechCrunch]