Cumbria

Lake District Pound: Currency forced out by contactless technology

Bonington and Beatrix Potter notes Image copyright Lake District Pound
Image caption Chris Bonington and Beatrix Potter featured on £10 and £5 notes

A currency designed specifically for the Lake District is to fold, following an "unprecedented rise" in the use of contactless payments.

The Lake District Pound (LD£) was launched in May 2018, aimed at encouraging people to shop locally.

But despite being adopted by more than 350 business and about £220,000 in circulation, no further currency will be produced from January next year.

The LD£ notes featured famous Cumbrians, such as Beatrix Potter.

'Global shift'

Ken Royall, founder of the Lakes Currency Project, said: "Despite excellent support and widespread awareness of the initiative, the volume of LD£ in circulation has steadily been declining this year such that the level now being retained is below the amount needed to support a self-sustaining operation.

"A full analysis of the reasons for the reducing circulation clearly shows that contactless, mobile and even wearable payments are replacing paper currency at an unexpected and unprecedented rate.

"In response, the project has concluded that the world in which the company finds itself today is unlikely to be able to support the project's business model in the long term.

"In practice, this leaves the project unable to continue operating in its present form beyond the validity of the current 2019 LD£, which ends on January 31 2020."

Image copyright Lake District Pound
Image caption Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and educational pioneer Charlotte Mason were the faces of £20 and £1 notes

Mr Royall said the project had succeeded in encouraging people to use the currency to support local, independent businesses.

Souvenir sales of the currency had also raised funds for local charities, the Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.

But he added: "Payment technology has moved ahead rapidly and the use of cash is declining much faster than anyone predicted and the LD£ is unfortunately an early casualty of that global shift.

"All 2019 LD£ in circulation continue to be fully backed by Sterling, held in a Sterling Reserve Account, and traders will be able to exchange LD£ back to Sterling at exchange points any time before January 31."

Existing notes will still be able to be purchased as souvenirs and gifts, he said.

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