The Lake District Pound has announced it will not be issuing new currency for 2020.
The LD£ launched in May 2018 and has been used by over 350 businesses, organisations and major visitor attractions throughout Cumbria.
Founder Ken Royall said the project had been intended to encourage people to use the currency to support local, independent businesses. At the same time, souvenir sales of the currency had been intended to raise funds for local charities the Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.
He said: “Over the last two years more than LD£220,000 has been put into circulation.
“The very profound impact of the initiative has been to highlight the importance and value of local businesses, to encourage local spending by residents and visitors alike and to bring local traders together within their communities.
“The project generated ongoing funds through people taking away LD£ as mementos, souvenirs and gifts or as collectors’ items and potential investments.
“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 of LD£ 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.
“It has been a great initiative and extremely well received by everyone.
“Sadly, we’re just a couple of years too late. 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.
“It has been a very difficult decision, but the current 2019 LD£ will be the last issue of Lake District Pounds put into circulation.”
Until January 31 people will be able to spend their LD£ as normal and customers will be encouraged to use up their LD£ with LD£ traders.
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 LD£ exchange points any time before January 31.
However, Ken said taking the LD£ out of circulation would not mean the end of the project and people would still be able to purchase both 2018 and 2019 LD£ as souvenirs.
“After January, the Lake District Foundation will continue to provide sales of LD£ gift sets, books and souvenir merchandise, with a proportion of the proceeds going towards supporting the charity, which does so much to help preserve our precious natural habitats and wildlife,” said Ken.
“If you would like to have a set of 2018 and/or 2019 LD£ for posterity, as a keepsake or perhaps as a potential investment, you can get yours now at www.lakedistrictpound.com.”