[Dave Birch] We wandered into Starbucks yesterday and discovered that the UK Starbucks card had launched as discussed here previously. It promises a faster payment experience at point-of-sale, although this didn’t work out for the people behind us in the queue yesterday as we played around with the cards, trying out load and spend operations. As I explained to the woman waiting patiently behind me, “it means faster in the long run”.

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I wish general purpose prepaid cards were this easy to obtain and use. I wanted to give my son a prepaid Visa or MasterCard as a present last week so I tried a couple of UK options, but they all seemed to end up with “send your passport to this address” or something else complicated to do with filling in forms and posting them. In the end I didn’t bother: surely there must be an e-money niche for a product with a maximum balance of (say) a hundred pounds that can use e-money legislation to avoid pointless KYC stuff. At Starbucks you just pick up a card from the counter and then load it on the spot. I used the card to pay, it worked first time, was indeed quick, and I liked the way that the receipt reminds you of the balance remaining on the card…


In the US, Starbucks are very nice to people who register their cards and even give them free money, so I logged on to try and register my card but I got an error message that said something along the lines of “Our web developers are a bit new at this and unable to design a site that works on Macs as well as PCs”. So if anyone else has registered, could they let me know what the process was like?

Oh, and there’s another Starbucks card pre-loaded with ten pounds in front of me right now. It’s got your name on it if you’re the first person to comment on this post. Excluding employees of Consult Hyperion, blogmeister Jane and members of my immediate family, as usual.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public.
[posted with ecto]


  1. I think the “pointless KYC stuff” is driven by card scheme requirements rather than regulatory requirements.
    Prepaid issuers are thus prevented from offering the instant access which a small (e-money) issuers certificate allows for.

  2. Sorry to hear you had such a hassle trying to get your son the Visa card as a present.
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