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Nium and utu Join Forces to Unlock Cash and other Rewards for Globetrotting Shoppers 

Travel technology company utu has partnered with leading global payments platform Nium for the international launch of its virtual utu Tax Free Card and mobile app. Nium is the card-issuance service provider for utu. The utu Tax Free Card allows travellers shopping abroad to upsize their tax-free shopping refunds by up to 25%.

With international travel resuming as we enter a new chapter in the COVID-19 world, utu is set to revive the once buoyant tax-free shopping experience. 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 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 value of the perk.

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By leveraging Nium’s global payments platform, utu aims to change all that and help travellers unlock more of the VAT refund than previously possible. By choosing to designate their refund to the utu Tax Free Card, travellers can now upsize their VAT refund value by a whopping 25% if their refund is delivered in Frequent Flyer Miles from a choice of 15 major airlines, or gain a 5% upsize if they prefer their refund in cash. In time, 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.

“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.

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

“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,” said Matt Wood, Head of Digital Partnerships, Asia Pacific, Visa.

When downloading and signing up to the utu Tax Free app, travellers will be able to activate a VISA-enabled card number issued by Nium. Travellers will follow the traditional VAT refund process, and will provide the utu Tax Free Card number as the nominated card for the refund. Users will choose their preferred upsize reward and will be notified when the refund has been processed. With Nium, utu users can be confident with the knowledge 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.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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