World’s first VAT refund app by blockchain

The Revenue Department, along with partners, launched the world’s first value-added-tax (VAT) refund mobile application for tourists at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Friday.

A partnership between the Finance Ministry, the Revenue Department, the Immigration Bureau, the Customs Department, and Krungthai Bank, will see an application that utilises blockchain and is available for tourists to check for information 24 hours a day. 

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, Director-General of the Revenue Department, said that the partnership was comprised of both the private and public sectors to shorten processing times, reduce the public sector’s costs, and promote tourism.

“It uses blockchains for an effective system and tourists’ convenience. The VAT refund process will be fast and accurate, boosting purchasing power and continued economic growth,” Finance Minister Uttama Saowanayon said.

The partnership has also developed a web application for paperless document verification. It can confirm tourists’ travelling status and allows storeowners to add their goods and services data to the system.

In the past ten years, statistics showed the numbers of tourists receiving VAT refunds increase from 352,000 in 2010 to 2.6 million in 2019, a six-fold increase. It is likely that the numbers will continue to increase, according to Ekniti. 

Payong Srivanich, President of the Executive Committee of Krungthai Bank, said, “The bank believes that our refunding system will satisfy tourists. The blockchain technology is safe because people can track their VAT refunds via Alipay, WeChat, Visa card, Mastercard, JCB and UnionPay.” 

Payong expects 5,000 storeowners to join the project in the first quarter of 2020.

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