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NI voucher scheme: One-third eligible for card apply in first two days

The Northern Ireland public have flocked to apply for the high street voucher scheme with over 400,000 applications completed in the first few days of the opening.
conomy Minister Gordon Lyons said the significant figure of completed applications runs …

The Northern Ireland public have flocked to apply for the high street voucher scheme with over 400,000 applications completed in the first few days of the opening. conomy Minister Gordon Lyons said the significant figure of completed applications runs alongside more than 840,000 links issued to the public. To get your card click here. Around 1.4million people are eligible to receive the pre-paid card loaded with GBP100 to spend.

The application window to apply is open until October 25. There was some initial frustration when the system opened on Monday, with widespread reports of difficulties accessing the NI Direct link to apply for the scheme. Some initially reported the NI Direct website was not working properly, with other people getting 'Bad Gateway' messages.

Users apply initially on the website, before an email link is then sent to users to complete some further details including providing a National Insurance Number and some contact details. Applicants will also have the option of including a driving licence number to enable verification. The card is expected to be issued between seven and 10 days after you apply.

When someone receives their card, they will also need to verify the card through a computer-operated phone system or text message and make the first payment using a pin, before they can start to use it for contactless payments. The cards can be used in all participating businesses in Northern Ireland. They cannot be used online or for gambling or some financial and legal services.

A phone application service will open for anyone who does not have access to the internet on October 11. The card cannot be used after November 30. Mr Lyons said demand has been "extremely high".

"In just two days, almost a third of the 1.4 million people eligible to apply have been able to complete their application," he said on Tuesday. "This is a formidable response and a great confidence boost for our local businesses that are at the heart of this scheme. "We knew that demand in the first days of the scheme would be high but our systems performed well in coping with the huge volume of traffic.

"There is still ground to cover but the applications portal is open up to 25 October and there is plenty of time for all those eligible to apply, receive and use their Spend Local card. "The objective of the High Street Scheme is to support local businesses across Northern Ireland adversely affected by the drop in footfall due to the pandemic. "That is why I would urge everyone in receipt of a Spend Local card to think local when spending their cards and support those shops, hospitality and other services most affected by the Covid-19 restrictions."

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