The portal enables anyone aged 18+ and a resident in Northern Ireland to apply for the £100 Spend Local pre-paid cards.
The Minister, Gordon Lyons, said: “Now is the time for residents of Derry City and Strabane District Council area to get ready to Spend Local.
“But I would urge people to be patient as we expect demand to be high in the early days of the online portal being open.
“The portal remains open until October 25 so everyone will have an opportunity to make their application, with at least four weeks after that to use their Spend Local cards as the scheme doesn’t end until November 30.”
The objective of the £145million High Street Support Scheme is to boost local businesses following the drop in footfall brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister Lyons added: “By giving everyone aged 18 and over in Northern Ireland a pre-paid card worth £100 to spend in local high street businesses, we will encourage many more customers back through the doors of local retail, hospitality and services.
“By applying, receiving and ultimately using your Spend Local card in local businesses such as shops, hospitality and other services before November 30, you will be doing your bit to support your local businesses and the wider community.”
Applicants are asked to apply through the website, NI Direct. For verification purposes in order to reduce the risk of fraud and error, each applicant will be asked to provide their: name, address, age, gender, disability status, national insurance number, email address and telephone number.
Applicants also have the option of including a driving licence number to enable verification.
Once the applicant has completed the registration process their information will be checked against a number of government databases to verify their identity.
Eligible applicants should receive their Spend Local card within 7-10 days of making their application.
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 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.
For more information about how the scheme works, visit https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/articles/high-street-scheme or https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/spend-local-card