It's old news that Starbucks patrons can use gift cards loaded onto their iPhones to pay for lattes - but one programmer has turned the feature into a fascinating social experiment. That man, Jonathan Stark, decided to see what would happen if he made his gift card entirely public; anyone can download his card onto their phone (get it for yourself here) and use it to pay for their coffee. Of course, with his card info entirely public, anyone can also choose to put money back into the card. The result is a single account with hundreds of users, all buying coffee with - and recharging - the same card.
How has the card's balance fared? Well, for every jittery freeloader, there seem to be a few honest souls - the current balance, which can be tracked via Twitter, has bounced dramatically in the range between $0 and $180 over the last few days. With all the recent talk about group-buying services like Groupon and honor-system restaurants like Panera's pay-what-you-want location, it's exciting to see consumers themselves creating new, social ways to make purchases.