UTU tax-free app cuts queues, boosts refunds for travellers

Singapore-based digital rewards platform UTU is providing international tourists and shoppers with the means to receive 85 per cent of their VAT refund back.

The refund is a significant increase from the 55–60-per-cent refund that tourists currently receive.

Tourists can now avoid long queues at multiple tax-free operator counters via UTU Direct, a tax-free app, to consolidate all their purchases and track transactions throughout the refund process until they receive the money and cash back to their preferred credit card.  

International shoppers in Italy can also bring any tax refund form issued within Italy by any tax refund operator to the UTU Service Counter – and using UTU Direct receive 85 per cent of the tax refund amount back.

Working with various card schemes and bank-issued cards, UTU has been created to bring 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 via mobile connectivity.

“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,” said UTU SVP of marketing Sanjay Chinchwade. “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.”

In coming weeks, UTU also plans to launch UTU Plus, a VAT refund product available to all travellers and shoppers across 19 Eurozone countries, providing up to 5 per cent more on all qualifying VAT refunds.

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