UTU Launches Disruptive Tax Refund Product to Give Tourists More Cash Back When Shopping in Europe

The Singapore-based digital rewards platform aims to provide shoppers and tourists from around the world with higher VAT refunds and more benefits than they currently receive in today's opaque and unbalanced tax refund process

SINGAPORE, Nov. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In a world first, Singapore-based digital rewards platform UTU is providing Tourists and shoppers across the globe with 85% of tax refund amount of their Value-Added Tax (VAT) refunds compared to ~55-60% of the total amount that tourists receive today. International shoppers can bring any tax refund form issued in Italy by any tax refund operator to UTU Service Counters and using UTU Direct, receive 85% of the tax refund amount.

UTU Launches Disruptive Tax Refund Product to Give Tourists More Cash Back When Shopping in Europe
UTU Launches Disruptive Tax Refund Product to Give Tourists More Cash Back When Shopping in Europe


Working with various card schemes and bank-issued cards, this game-changing product has been created to bring innovation and increased fairness to the tax-free shopping sector, which has long been operating through a paper-based system shrouded in opaque commissions, meaning shoppers do not receive as much VAT refund as they are entitled to.

UTU is co-founded by Asad Jumabhoy, a VAT refund veteran with 25 years' experience who has played a pivotal role in creating the shareholder value of both dominant companies in the space, Global Blue and Premier Tax Free (now Planet). Together with seasoned teams across France, Italy and Singapore, UTU's focus is customer-centricity for VAT refunds -- paired with a new business model designed to deliver additional value to shoppers and shops in the digitally-liberated world of mobile connectivity.

Bringing fairness to shoppers in Europe

As tourists name Europe as one of their top travel destinations, increased spend within Europe means an uptick in travellers claiming VAT refunds and potentially not receiving fair amounts -- leaving a gap that UTU fills. Tourists from all over the world will benefit from a disruption in today's tax-refund market where many complain about the system, but few recognise the significant portion of fees they pay to receive the balance of their VAT refund.

"Most shoppers are not aware of their rights or that they even have a choice in how they claim their VAT refunds to get the best outcome for themselves. The goal of UTU has always been to innovate the tax refund process, which has remained mostly unchanged for decades as a complex, paper-based and commission-ridden system. Our solutions ensure tourists the choice in how they wish to receive their refunds, getting more for their VAT Refund every time," says Sanjay Chinchwade, SVP of Marketing at UTU.

The launch of UTU Direct

Starting today in Italy, with UTU Direct, shoppers can receive 85% of all tax refunded versus the ~55-60% on offer in the market on some EUR1 billion spent by Singaporeans in Europe annually. UTU Direct is easy to use. Just bring the tax refund form issued by any tax free shopping operator to UTU Customer Service Counters at airports, city centres or UTU's lounge at via Montenapoleone in Milan. All of these can be easily located using the UTU Tax Free app. Using this service and consolidating all tax refund forms from various tax refund operators offers tourists convenience to go directly to Customs and skip the queues at various tax free operator booths at major Italian airports. UTU Direct provides shoppers with greater fairness and freedom in receiving their tax refunds.

The launch of UTU Direct paves the way for the company's introduction of more innovations. In coming weeks, UTU also plans to launch UTU Plus, a VAT refund product available to all travelers and shoppers across 19 Eurozone countries, providing up to 5% more on all qualifying VAT refunds.

UTU's aim is to move VAT refunding from a shopper-pay to a shop-and-shopper-benefit model. Its ability to innovate is powered by a strong management team that has come from the tax refund, payments and loyalty spaces, as well as experience running UTU's shopping rewards program in Thailand over the past two years.

"Consumers should think of UTU Plus as a VAT refund companion product, which can be used with any VAT refund form belonging to any VAT refund operator in any eurozone country," says Chinchwade. 

He adds that the Pound Sterling and Swiss Franc variants for UTU Plus will augment the Euro offering in the first quarter of 2020.

UTU is also in the process of beta testing its 100% VAT Refund product in Italy at selected stores, pending a general roll out.

The UTU Tax Free app is now available on all major app stores.

About UTU

Established in 2015 in Singapore, UTU first innovated with a cross border rewards platform in Thailand. We are PCI certified for handling confidential payment card information and connect to payment and wallet platforms. UTU is the only PCI certified VAT Refund operator in Europe. We deliver our VAT rewards for VAT refunds in 19 countries and have establishments in 8 countries. We are committed to customer centricity and innovation through seamless digital service delivery giving more to our clients, every day.

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Source: UTU
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