BC Card Signs Agreement with UTU to Bring Cross-Border Rewards to South Koreaby Fintechnews Singapore April 25, 2017
UTU empowers shoppers to earn, redeem and convert rewards points through smartphones, in real time, at any UTU merchant outlet worldwide. UTU drives users, payment card schemes and card issuers to increase tourist and local spending at acquirers’ merchants and in participating countries.
On 24 April, BC Card CEO, Jong-Jin Chae and Asad Jumabhoy, CEO of UTU Pte Ltd, signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement that will bring cross-border rewards to South Korea. The agreement will give locals and tourists to the country the ability to convert, earn and redeem rewards points in real-time at any UTU merchant outlet worldwide through their smartphone.
“This agreement is very meaningful because it is the first global alliance business in which BC Card is affiliated in 2017,” said Mr. Jong-Jin Chae. “Based on BC Card’s accumulated processing infrastructure and global business know-how, we will continue to promote global loyalty and rewards integrated services for tourists visiting Korea.”
“With m-commerce in South Korea valued around $9.8 billion, UTU sees a tremendous growth opportunity. Our approach is perfectly aligned with the expectations of South Korean consumers, who are mobile-first and value convenience in transactions,”
says Asad Jumabhoy, an entrepreneur and pioneer in the digitization of global tax-free shopping.
Unlike existing rewards apps in the South Korean market, UTU’s first of its kind cross-border feature allows local consumers to continue their mobile-centric retail and rewards behavior when they travel; reinforcing UTU’s observation that the tourist today is a local tomorrow, and a local today is a tourist tomorrow.
Growthing Korean Outbound Travel
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, outbound travel increased from South Korea by almost 16 percent in 2016. With more South Koreans traveling out of the country, UTU will enable outbound tourists the ability to maintain the rewards earned from their travel spend, as well as enjoy the entertainment and gamification features that the app provides in their own language. Conversely, inbound travelers to the country can enjoy the same benefits during their stay. In 2016, more than 17 million people traveled to South Korea, increasing tourist expenditure by 7.4%.
The signing of the agreement with BC Card is a milestone for UTU, which soft launched its app in Thailand in December 2016. At the signing event in Singapore attended by representatives from SGInnovate, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), China UnionPay, OCBC Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Card Company, Mr. Jumabhoy commented that since UTU’s entry into the Thai market, its user base has grown. The company now provides its community access to 8,000 merchant outlets, with shoppers in Thailand able to earn rewards and redeem points at companies like McDonald’s and Zara. The company is expanding in North Asia and South Asia in the next six months.
To use UTU, users download the free mobile application; register up to five credit or debit cards on to the UTU app; earn rewards points automatically when they shop at a UTU merchant outlet; convert those points through the UTU platform, and spend them at thousands of participating redemption outlets. Users can also gift points, select to receive promotions and earn extra points through merchant engagement.
The global rewards industry is estimated to reach US$20 billion by 2020. Loyalty management today is an expensive and segmented process which has resulted in a plethora of programs delivering incremental advantages to the consumer. Merchants bear the cost of rewards systems and front line education and training. Shoppers are burdened with physical cards and are responsible for monitoring their points and merchant offers through separate portals. UTU eliminates the inconvenience for all parties and provides a streamlined experience.
With more than one billion people traveling to foreign countries a year, locals and tourists want integrated rewards programs, greater ease in managing their rewards points and more relevant deals from merchants. With UTU, shoppers continue to be rewarded, regardless of geography, through the one piece of technology they use every day – their mobile phone.