A. ABOUT AMCU & MEMBERSHIP
- What is the Asian Migrants Credit Union (AMCU)?
AMCU is a legally-registered savings and credit cooperative of and for the migrants in Hong Kong. It is a self-help, non-profit, non-charitable organization that serves its members (see AMCU brochure).
- Is AMCU authorised to operate as a cooperative in HK?
Yes. AMCU is, so far, the first and only officially-registered cooperative of migrants in HK. It was registered on 22 September 2008 (Registration No. 76) under the Credit Unions Ordinance (Chapter 119) of Hong Kong.
- How can I become a member of AMCU?
Only individual persons can become members of AMCU. You need to qualify and apply for membership. Associations, organisations, companies or other groups cannot become a member.
You have to satisfy the “common bond” requirement of AMCU, which is established by law. You can become an AMCU member only if you are:
a. An Asian migrant (foreigner) working and living in HK; or
b. A member of a registered migrant organisation in HK; or
c. A staff of an organisation working with migrants in HK.
This includes Filipinos, Indonesians, Thais, Nepalese or other Asian migrants in HK, regardless of job category (domestic workers, musicians, service workers, company employees, NGO staff, etc.).
- Can I become a member of AMCU if I am already a member of other organisations? How about if I don’t belong to any organisation?
Yes, you can join AMCU even if you are already a member of other organisations, or don’t have any group at all – as long as you satisfy one of the “common bond” requirements described above.
- Does my AMCU membership expire?
Your AMCU membership will not expire. Membership does not automatically stop even if you go back home to your home country.
To terminate your membership in AMCU, you have to officially resign.
- As a member, do I have the right to participate in decision-making and join any activity of AMCU?
Yes. Each member of AMCU has 1 vote, regardless of the amount of savings you hold. Major decisions are made during the General Meetings of AMCU (annual or extra-ordinary members’ meeting). All members are expected to participate and exercise their rights at these general meetings.
Your other rights and responsibilities as an AMCU member are described in the AMCU by-laws and policies, which are in accordance with HK laws.
You can join various AMCU committees and activities, and involve in AMCU activities as you see fit. This is the right of all members. Each member is encouraged to join at least one committee of AMCU to ensure effective communication and opportunity to join AMCU activities. Please coordinate with the AMCU staff or your committee on activities during the year.
AMCU members with email are also automatically included in the [amcu-members] email group, and the e-group of their committee. Regular updates and information about AMCU and/or the committee activities are posted in these email groups. You can also reply and email back to these e-groups to express your views and get additional information.
- How can I get regular updates and information from AMCU?
The various ways are described above. In addition:
- You can contact the AMCU Manager and staff by office telephone (9208 3227) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org);
- AMCU has regular reports (annual report, monthly statements) which you should receive through the AMCU email groups or distributed print outs;
- You can check the AMCU Facebook and web site www.amcuhk.org?;
- AMCU also issues regular memos or notices to members on important decisions and matters.
- What are my responsibilities as a saver of AMCU? What are the savings requirements of the cooperative?
• Minimum savings of 1 share (HK$5) per month;
• At least 1 savings transaction in 6 months; otherwise, you will be classified as “inactive” and lose your eligibility to take an AMCU loan.
- Are my savings properly recorded? What records/proof do I have? Do I get a regular statement of my savings?
Yes. Each member is issued a savings passbook. A quarterly financial statement is issued for each member. This is sent by email, mail or through your organisation.
- How do I deposit my savings in AMCU? Where do I go? What is the process?
a. You can hand in your savings through the AMCU authorised collectors; he/she will issue you an AMCU official receipt, and update your passbook; or
b. You can deposit directly to AMCU bank account (HSBC account # 168-821627-838).
If you deposit directly to the bank, please keep your bank deposit slip for your personal record and for verification by AMCU. Please call/SMS AMCU manager or staff to advise them of your deposit. Tha AMCU Manager/staff will ask for the bank deposit details (based on the bank or ATM receipt). A photocopy of bank transaction receipts will be submitted to the AMCU office or collectors for verification.
- Is there a limit on savings?
The maximum amount may be set by the General Meeting of AMCU, but currently there is no limit.
However, according to HK laws, no member is allowed to save more than 20% of the total amount of savings of AMCU, unless approved by the Board.
- Is the savings transferable?
Yes, but only among members. Savings can be transferred to other members. Whoever you transfer the savings to becomes the new owner of the savings.
You have to fill out and submit the necessary AMCU form to do this; you have to wait for AMCU Board approval to put this into effect. Otherwise, the transfer to another person will not be recognised or honoured by AMCU.
- How can I ensure that my money (savings) is safe?
AMCU has 3 levels of protection:
- internal auditing through the AMCU Supervisory Committee;
- government oversight – the Credit Union Registry conducts regular checks;
- public audit – AMCU is required to get a professional external auditor to regularly audit (annual) its accounts and financial records.
Legal guarantees under AMCU:
- Savings are insured. AMCU provides savings insurance to all active members (paid savings for six months and no standing loan due). Savings insurance coverage will be based on the amount of savings (per member);
- Loans are covered by insurance (premium paid by AMCU); loan insurance coverage is applicable in case of death and permanent disability (member only);
- Surety Bond (SB)- this is designed especially for Credit Union (cooperative). Surety bond protect the capital of AMCU; surety bond cover the losses in case of fraud.
- Are there AMCU branches outside of HK where I can withdraw from my savings?
Currently, there are no branches outside HK, but AMCU may set up branches in other locations if the need arises.
- If I go home for good, can I continue to be a member of AMCU? Can I continue my savings? Where and how do I pay my regular savings?
You can continue to be a member provided you maintain your ‘common bond’, or if you do not resign (as long as you are a member, even if you are not physically in HK, you can continue your savings and membership in AMCU).
There will be a limitation on the amount you can loan. You cannot loan more than the total amount of your savings.
- If I go home for good and want to stop being a member of AMCU, can I get back all my savings and the interest? How?
If you are still in HK, you can get your savings through the normal withdrawal process defined by AMCU.
If you have already left HK, you can communicate through telephone, email, or in writing, to formally request the withdrawal of your savings (personal information will be asked to verify the identity of the person making the withdrawal).
- If I am terminated, and I am still in HK, can I continue to be a member of AMCU?
Yes, provided that you maintain your ‘common bond’ (e.g. remain a member of a migrant organisation in HK).
- If I am terminated, how long before I can get back my money?
You can withdraw your savings at anytime. This is your right. (See guidelines by AMCU on withdrawal of savings).
- If a member has an accident or becomes disabled, how can he/she get back his/her savings?
If the member is still in HK, he/she can withdraw his/her savings according to the normal procedures of AMCU. If they are not in HK, he/she can formally request to release his/her savings.
In the case of death, the savings will be released to the beneficiary, specified by the member on the membership form. If the member who passed away has a loan, the loan will be covered by the loan insurance.
- If a member passes away, what happens to the savings? Can the beneficiary continue the membership?
The beneficiary can collect all the money; but the beneficiary cannot continue the membership. Beneficiary may become a member if she/he satisfies the AMCU common bond.
The credit union has a life insurance policy (paid by the credit union); if a member passes away, the insurance company will release the savings/benefits to the beneficiary.
- Can AMCU provide only savings but not loan services?
No. By law, AMCU has to provide both savings and loan services to its members. But AMCU primarily advocates and promotes the value, habit and benefits of savings.
- What is the loan application process?
• See procedures defined by AMCU (see: “AMCU Operational Policies” – this will be issued to all members of AMCU);
• Each member will be given: AMCU constitution and by-laws, AMCU Operational Policies, savings passbook, I.D., “Frequently Asked Questions” (this document), and other membership materials;
• Submit loan application to AMCU.
- What is the maximum loanable amount for the 1st loan?
The actual amount that will be approved for you will depend on your application, and on the decision of the AMCU Credit Committee. The Credit Committee will determine the amount, repayment schedule, and other terms of the loan.
The decision of the Credit Committee on loan matters is final.
- If I have HK$100,000 savings, can I borrow a total of HK$200,000?
Yes. Qualified borrowers can borrow a maximum of two (2) times their total savings. However, note that there is a maximum limit of HK$24,000 for the first loan.
- If I have an outstanding loan and I get terminated, what is the AMCU procedure in collecting the outstanding balance of my loan?
Inform AMCU formally (e-mail, letter or phone call) about your termination. Discuss with AMCU representative the best way to continue repaying the loan. AMCU will advise and assist you on this matter.
- If I go back to my country, how do I pay my loans?
Yes. You are still legally required to pay back the outstanding balance of your AMCU loan. Remember that you signed a legal agreement when you applied for the loan. If you stop payment, your savings and the co-guarantor of the loan will be made to pay the balance.
AMCU will advise you on procedures (through bank transfer, etc).
- If I fail to pay my loan on time, what are the consequences? Does AMCU have similar practices as other lending companies (e.g. will collectors call or harass me)?
- HK has strong laws on financial accountabilities. You will be legally liable for loans you take from AMCU, in accordance with HK laws and AMCU policies.
- Policies are set by the credit union (e.g. General Meeting).
- AMCU is your own. You are one of the owners/members. The interest you pay goes back to all members (including you). If you have problems repaying your loan it is best to contact AMCU. AMCU will advise you on best way to pay back your loan. AMCU will not call your employer directly, it could be a friendly call to find out if there’s a problem or to see if he/she is still in Hong Kong. There maybe special circumstances when a call needs to be made to inform your employer regarding your unpaid loan.
- If AMCU writes to remind you of your loan payment, it will be done in a proper way, to avoid conflict with your employer.
- Each loan has two co-borrowers, if you fail to pay your loan, the amount will be taken from the savings of the co-borrowers(s).
- If a member has loans in other lending companies, can he/she get a loan from AMCU? Does AMCU require a Credit Background Report?
Yes, provided you fulfil the AMCU loan policy, you have enough savings, and your loan is co-signed by qualified co-borrowers or guarantors.
Yes, AMCU will conduct credit investigation (CI) as one of the requirements in processing members’ application for loan. CI report shall be submitted to the AMCU Board by the Credit Committee for review.