Jonathan’s Card: An Experiment In Digital Currency And Mobile Payments

Jonathan’s Card: An Experiment In Digital Currency And Mobile Payments

Will Stark's experiment demonstrate that mobile photos are another form of digital currency - and that photos can in essence be transactional?

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 9 august 2011

We recently stumbled onto a very interesting experiment by mobile application consultant Jonthan Stark. On his site, Stark essentially invites visitors to buy their next coffee at Starbucks on him, by downloading a photo of his Starbucks card to your mobile phone. What does the experiment aim to observe and learn? According to Stark:

Jonathan’s Card is an experiment in social sharing of physical goods using digital currency on mobile phones. I stumbled on the idea while doing research for a blog post about Broadcasting Mobile Currency.

Based on the similarity to the ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ trays at convenience stores in the US, I’ve adopted a similar ‘get a coffee, give a coffee’ terminology for Jonathan’s Card. As it turns out, this is actually a new take on a wonderful old italian custom called Caffe Pagato, which translates to English as ‘Coffee Paid.’

Stark’s project allows for multiple layers of interaction:

  • Check the balance of his card (need to make sure the balance can currently cover your coffee order) by following @jonathanscard for an update whenever the card balance changes.
  • Generously contribute to the card balance by directly reloading the card on (using the card account number transparently provided by Stark)
  • Publicly sharing your activities with @jonathanscard – Tweeting a photo of what you bought, which Starbucks you’re at, or the receipt for what you ordered
  • Developers are invited to build something on top of the API.

Stark’s project is in no way, shape or form sponsored by or affiliated with Starbucks. The experiment aims to generate insight into human behavior (how many people will buy themselves a coffee on Stark — vs. how many will donate back to the card’s account, and whether photographs can serve as currency in the realm of digital and mobile payments. After all, if a photograph of Stark’s account contains the card account number and associated QR code – why wouldn’t it serve the same function as it would is Stark’s own hand?

We’re extremely curious to follow this project and learn from Stark’s experiment, and also to see if Starbucks has anything to say about it. Lastly, we may be jumping the gun here, but we can’t help but wonder if Stark’s experiment will inspire Instagram (and their community) in how they make the platform transactional.

Jonathan’s Card


Dubai And The Future Of Humanitarian Design

Design & Architecture
Technology Yesterday

Concept Camera Designed To Only Take Unique Photos

Camera Restricta is tool that prompts photographers to only capture one-of-a-kind images

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Fragrance Will Release The Smell Of Data If Your Private Information Is Being Leaked

The device is designed to create a physical cue for the potential dangers lurking online


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Yesterday

LYNK & CO Is A New Auto Brand That Promises Mobile Connectivity On Wheels

Online access and mobility sharing are driving the company to disrupt the auto industry

Travel Yesterday

Become A Citizen Of The First Nation In Space

Asgardia is a new concept for a floating society above Earth

Entertainment Yesterday

Speaker Displays Song Lyrics As Music Is Played

The device is able to generate the graphics on a translucent screen and retrieve the words from a connected database

AI Yesterday

Travel Assistant Scans Your Emails To Make Planning Easier

This AI add-on will sync with your inbox and sends reminders to make sure you don't miss anything important


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 20, 2016

Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Billie Whitehouse, Founder of Wearable Experiments, shares her new vision for the quantified self

PSFK Labs Yesterday

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Millennials Yesterday

FOMO Survival Kit Helps Millennials Cope With Social Anxieties

The satirical product is meant to be a playful diversion for people who feel like they are missing out

Food Yesterday

New York Restaurant Uses Tomato Sushi As Its Newest Meat Alternative

fresh&co is using sous vide Roma tomatoes to create a vegan option that has the texture and taste of tuna

Advertising Yesterday

Red Bull Converts Sao Paulo Payphones Into Data-Driven Bus Schedules

The booths allow city residents to check local transit times through a simple toll-free phone call

Work Yesterday

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail Yesterday

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers

Children Yesterday

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants Yesterday

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Technology Yesterday

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

No search results found.