Blockchain-led VAT refund app in global debut
The roll-out of the world's first blockchain-powered value-added tax (VAT) refund for tourists via an app is estimated to increase foreign tourist spending by 10% in Thailand.
The blockchain-based service shortens the VAT refund period to 1-3 days from about a month, said Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana.
The shorter process should encourage foreign shoppers to spend more on VAT items.
International tourists spend 46 billion baht a year on goods and services subject to VAT in Thailand.
The scheme was jointly developed by four state agencies under the Finance Ministry and Krungthai Bank (KTB), Mr Uttama said.
Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the Revenue Department, said the number of foreign tourists who claimed VAT refunds surged to 2.6 million last year from 352,000 in 2010, while their spending more than quadrupled to 46 billion baht from 10.9 billion baht over the same period.
Foreign visitors can claim VAT refunds at 10 international airports and downtown agents nationwide.
The full-scale digital VAT refund service lets those who claim VAT refunds check on their purchases and refund information around the clock, Mr Ekniti said.
Blockchain technology can also reduce the document verification process and save up to 10 million sheets of paper a year, lower cash management costs and slash congestion at VAT refund counters.
The Revenue Department has joined forces with the Customs Department, the Immigration Bureau and KTB to develop a web-based app to verify and confirm the status of goods bought outside Thailand, Mr Ekniti said.