Amadeus invests in Refundit to digitize VAT refund

Refundit’s mobile solution allows travelers to digitally claim VAT refunds and avoid tedious paperwork and queues at the airport, the fourth investment made by Amadeus Ventures in 2019.

After a relaxing shopping holiday, the last thing travellers need is to stress out trying to claim value added tax (VAT) on their purchases. Every year, tourists travelling to the European Union do not receive around 90% of VAT refunds (some 23 billion euros). In this context, Amadeus Ventures announces today that it is leading a $9.8 million investment round in Refundit. Other investors include Portugal Ventures and other early-stage investors.

The digital start-ups solution aims to enable tourists from all over the world who are visiting Europe to claim their VAT refund as quickly and efficiently as possible. The solution, which is currently being piloted in Belgium, plans to eliminate long queues and paperwork for the VAT refund to become a fully digital process.

Refundit was co-founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneur Uri Levine, best known for co-founding the navigation application Waze, and Ziv Tirosh, the former CEO and co-founder of Stockton, the agricultural biotechnology company.

How does Refundit work? To claim VAT through Refundit’s mobile application, non-EU tourists will need to take photos of their receipts, boarding cards and passports and then digitally request a VAT refund. The tax authorities in the relevant countries will review the applications digitally and send a digital confirmation to the traveller. The new process is simple, fast and easy to use.

The main innovation that sets Refundit apart from its competitors is the end-to-end digitised process, both for the traveller and for the tax authorities. Until now, in most EU countries, travellers had to fill in forms and go to the customs desk at the airport, adding unnecessary stress and longer travel times.

“The current VAT claim process is complicated and inefficient for all stakeholders. By offering an innovative digital solution from start to finish, Refundit offers real value to all stakeholders,” explains Ziv Tirosh, co-founder and CEO of Refundit. Our solution benefits everyone: the tourist, the retailer, the tax authorities and the country’s economy, making the purchase a more attractive experience.

“At Amadeus, we are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the travel experience. We are excited to welcome the Amadeus family to Refundit and look forward to working closely with their team to make these much-needed improvements a reality for our travelers,” says Stefan Ropers, president of Strategic Growth Businesses at Amadeus, who will join the start-up’s board of directors.

“Refundit and his team meet all the requirements when it comes to what we are looking for in strategic investments. The application enhances the traveler’s experience considerably and adds value at every step of the VAT claim process,” said Suzanna Chiu, director of Amadeus Ventures.

Refundit fits Amadeus’ strategic goal of empowering the traveler and offering the easiest possible travel experience. As a means of innovation to foster collaboration with the start-ups ecosystem and companies like Refundit, Amadeus launched its start-ups investment program in 2014. Since then, Amadeus has incorporated more than 150 start-ups into its businesses and has developed more than 20 joint projects with its investment companies.

Amadeus Ventures is Amadeus’ start-ups investment program, in which Amadeus invests through minority investments in start-ups that are in their initial stages and that dedicate their activities to the confluence of travel and technology. The program seeks outstanding global entrepreneurs who have already completed a minimum viable product and have begun working with the first customers. In addition to financing, our portfolio of start-ups will be able to access expert knowledge, customer contact and technology.