The online portal and accompanying telephony service will close on Monday, October 25. After this date it will no longer be possible to apply for the £100 pre-paid Spend Local card.
When an applicant receives their card, they will need to verify the card through a computer-operated phone system or text message and make the first payment using a personal identification number (PIN), before they can start to use it for contactless payments.
Meanwhile businesses across the Borough have been reporting an increase in the number of people using their £100 Spend Local cards.
The High Street Scheme’s prepaid cards have been landing in thousands of letter boxes across Northern Ireland this week after a massive public response to the scheme.
With around 1.4million people eligible to receive a Spend Local card, it is hoped businesses across the retail, hospitality and service sectors as well as the wider community will receive a much-needed economic boost.
Therefore, shoppers in the Causeway Coast and Glens area are being urged to spend their £100 wisely so businesses impacted by the pandemic receive the maximum benefit.
With just one week left to apply, the Minister said: “The response to the High Street Scheme has been magnificent and our retail, hospitality and service sectors are now starting to feel the benefit of the extra spend that it brings.
“I would appeal to those people who have yet to apply for their pre-paid £100 Spend Local card to do so now through the online portal on NI Direct.
“By applying for, receiving and spending your card you will be supporting your local shops, hospitality and other services which have been most affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.”
A number of business owners in Coleraine say they have noticed a steady flow of people using their cards.
John Lyttle, General Manager of Bishops Footwear in Coleraine, said more customers have been using the card over the course of last week.
He said: “The High Street Scheme is a good initiative and I hope it really puts the focus on supporting our high streets and the shop local message.
“We have seen more people coming in with the card and treating themselves with more expensive shoes than normal. One gentleman came in holding the card saying he had £100 to spend with us which was great.”
For those who do not have access to the internet or who are unable to apply online, they can make their application by calling 0800 046 8330.
The service will operate from 8.00am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday until October 25, 2021.