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starbucks-logoJonathan Stark was curious about something. As a gadget-laden mobile app developer with a thirst for Starbucks, he wondered how he could associate a single Starbucks mobile card with more than one mobile device. He tried this workaround for Starbucks limit: he took a screenshot on one device and emailed it to another. Turns out Starbucks doesn’t mind, displayed barcodes all scan the same. 

He uploaded the photo to his blog and his lucky followers were treated to this bit of information, as well as a cup of coffee on him. Before the end of the day, his initial $30 was down to $1.26. He reloaded $50 “for his friends on the west coast” and it was depleted again in hours.

Here’s where it gets interesting: a friend of Jonathan’s did him a solid and reloaded the card. It also turns out Starbucks will not only let anyone with an image of the card use it for coffee, they also don’t care who reloads it as long as they’ve got the barcode.

Being the developer he is, he quickly wrote a bot that scrapes the Starbucks site and updates a Twitter account he created for the card. Jonathan figured if you’re getting on board, you can follow the card tweets and decide whether to get a latte, or maybe help the next guy out.

Once the idea took off, more than his blog followers were playing along and his idea got the notice of more than just the tech sites for its uniqueness. The card’s Twitter account currently has over 9000 followers and in just the past hour includes seven tweets about reaching a zero balance, and 21 for positive amounts. Jonathan admits the transactions and reloads are not aggregating correctly, so it’s impossible right now to tell how often and for how much the card is being used. We’re confident he’ll figure it out though and update his followers, who have surely grown by the hundreds – full of developers, retailers, and philanthropists alike.


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Editor's Note: This article, while fun does show how dangerous these mobile purchasing and mobile wallet applications can be. If someone can skim information off of your phone Via Bluetooth, Free Wilress etc you can be subjected to serious theft.

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