VAT Refunds
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Utu’s Partnership With Nium Set To Make VAT Refunding a Traveller’s Dream

Travel technology company utu has partnered with their card-issuance service provider Nium for the international launch of its virtual utu tax-free card and mobile app.

With international travel resuming at a steady pace, utu is set to revive the once buoyant tax-free shopping experience.

The launch of utu’s tax-free card will allow international travellers-come-shoppers to upsize their tax-free shopping refunds. By leveraging global payments platform of Nium, utu aims to help travellers unlock more of the VAT refund than previously possible.

By choosing to designate their refund to the utu tax-free card, travellers will be able to upsize their VAT refund value by up to 25% if their refund is delivered in Frequent Flyer Miles from a choice of 15 major airlines. Likewise, travellers are able to gain a 5% upsize if they prefer their refund in cash.

Although addtional offers are still to be announced by the travel technology company, travellers will also be able to choose to upsize from a wide range of offers – from air miles, hotel points, retail and restaurant vouchers, as well as cash refunds.

Travellers will be able to activate a VISA-enabled card number issued by Nium, when they download and sign up to the utu tax-free app.

Travellers will follow the traditional VAT refund process, and will provide the utu tax-free card number as the nominated card for the refund. Through the use of Nium’s capabilities, utu users can be confident that their payments are safe and secure with end-to-end encryption and PCI DSS compliant card processing on a trusted platform with a reach in over 190 countries and 100 currencies.

Tax-free shopping is available in 50 countries across the globe, including France, Italy, Germany, Singapore, South Korea and the UAE. It allows travellers to claim back the Value-Added Tax (VAT) for purchases in countries they visit.

Although the traditional VAT-return system was introduced as a way to boost tourism revenue in local economies, over time it has fallen out of favour with travellers. By the time a refund is processed by VAT Refund Operators (VROs), shoppers only receive between 45% to 65% of the total value of the VAT refund they are owed.

This fact, coupled with long queues at airport tax refund desks and a clunky refund process that includes handwritten forms and emails, has led travellers to reevaluate the traditional value of the perk.

Asad Jumabhoy, Co-Founder and CEO, utu
Asad Jumabhoy, Co-Founder and CEO, utu

“We are excited to have Nium as a partner to help shake up and disrupt the tax-free shopping market. Barriers to entry and the resulting lack of innovation have for too long prevented cross-border shoppers receiving the VAT refunds they deserve. Linking Nium’s payment processing platform with the utu mobile app offers an important first step in revolutionising the market. There is much more to come, and we know Nium is the right partner to have on board this journey,” said Asad Jumabhoy, Co-Founder and CEO of utu.

Frederick Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer, Nium
Frederick Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer, Nium

“As travel corridors begin to re-open, it is crucial that seamless digital payment solutions replace slow-moving payment platforms,” explains Frederick Crosby, Chief Revenue Officer at Nium. “That is why we are delighted to support utu in bringing this tax-free card to life, which will digitise the tax refund process and empower travellers as they re-embark on their overseas shopping adventures.”

Matt Wood, Head of Digital Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Visa
Matt Wood, Head of Digital Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Visa

Matt Wood, Head of Digital Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Visa, added: “As people start to travel overseas again, they’re going to expect the same hassle-free shopping experiences they’ve become used to at home. Travellers can use the Visa card from Nium in their utu tax-free app to quickly and easily get their VAT refunds, without having to rely on the old analogue process in our increasingly digital world.”


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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