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Treasury Bills (T-Bills) Singapore Complete Guide - March 2023

22 Mar 2023

Learn everything you need to know about Singapore T-Bills with this comprehensive guide. From how they work to their benefits and risks, this updated guide for March 2023 includes the latest information on T-Bills in Singapore.

T-bill Singapore Comprehensive Guide

TL;DR

  • Singapore Treasury Bills (T-bills) are fully backed by the Singapore government, and offer you a sound way to earn a regular interest payment.
  • Singapore T-bills have a short maturity period of 6 or 12 months, compared to SGS bonds which have a maturity of 2 to 30 years. 
  • The 6 month Singapore T-bill offers a yield of 3.65% p.a. in a recent auction held in March.
  • Compared to the SSB, investors of Singapore T-bills may face less flexibility to transact after issuance. As such, investors should be prepared to hold the Singapore T-bills till maturity.

This post was updated in March 2023 to reflect the latest Singapore T-bills auction dates.

What happened?

Read on to find out more about:

  1. What are Singapore T-Bills?
  2. Why should I care about Singapore T-Bills?
  3. What are the risks of buying T-Bills in Singapore?
  4. Should I buy Singapore T-bills with CPF?
  5. How do I buy Singapore T-bills?

What are Singapore T-bills?

Like the Singapore Savings Bonds, Singapore T-bills are fully backed by the Singapore Government.

They offer a sound way for you to diversify your investment portfolios, while earning a regular interest payment. 

Graphical user interface, application, Teams

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Source: MAS

Singapore T-bills have a maturity of 6-months or 1 year.

This is shorter than SGS Bonds which have a maturity of 2 to 30 years, and pay a fixed coupon every 6 months.

Essentially, to decide between a Singapore T-bill and SGS bond, you just need to think about whether you would want to hold on this bond for a short period of time (6 months/1 year), or for a longer period of time. 

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Source: MAS

Why should I care about Singapore T-bills?

T-bills have been the subject of much interest in Singapore as interest rates have gone up over the past year. 

The yield on the 6 month T-bill in Singapore was at 3.65% p.a. recently. 

It has risen sharply due to Fed hiking interest rates aggressively to fight inflation. 

Source: Tradingview

What are the risks of buying T-bills in Singapore?

All investments come with risks, even for T-bills which are backed by the Singapore government.

#1 - Singapore T-bill has less flexibility compared to SSBs

Like any other bonds, the Singapore T-bill is subject to interest rate risks. This means that when interest rates go up, the price of the bond may come down. Hence, you might suffer capital losses if you were to sell the bond before its maturity date. 

If liquidity is important to you, this is something you will need to be aware of before buying the SGS bonds. 

This is where the Singapore T-bills might come in handy, as they have a shorter maturity period compared to the SGS bonds. 

As a result, you are committing to a shorter period of 6 months or 1 year, where hopefully the likelihood of you having to sell the bond is also lower. 

If you want the flexibility of redeeming your investment in any given month, do consider the Singapore Savings Bonds as an alternative.

#2 - Singapore T-bills are less easy to buy and sell after issuance

After you have been issued the Singapore T-bill, it may not be easy to buy or sell them in the secondary market before they mature. 

You will have to visit the main branches of the banks (DBS, OCBC or UOB), and indicate whether you are using cash, SRS or CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) funds.

Thereafter, the bank will provide you with a quote on the Singapore T-bill

So while it is doable, it will not be as straightforward as pressing a button on your ibanking app!

#3 - No certainty on interest rate of T-bill at the point of subscription

If you were subscribing to the Singapore T-bill, you would not know what is the yield you are getting at the point of subscription. 

It is eventually determined based on demand and supply at the auction. If there is sudden spike in demand for the T-bill in Singapore, then you might be getting a lower yield. 

Looking at a recent auction for the 6-month T-bill Singapore on 5 January 2023, there was a total of S$12 billion of bids put in. 

It is worth noting that there are allotment limits for competitive and non-competitive bids at each auction.

All the successful bids were allotted the 6-month Singapore T-bill at the cut-off yield of 4.20% p.a.

To find out how to make a competitive bid, you can check our guide here and become a pro.

You can also consider building a bond ladder to maximise your passive income. 

Source: MAS

The other thing to note here is that Singapore T-bills do not have coupon payments; instead, they are issued to you at a purchase price that is below the face value of the bond. Therefore, the yield that you get at maturity is the difference between the purchase price and the face value.

Sounds complicated? Here's how it works.

Using the 1-year T-bill in Singapore as an example, it has a face value of S$100. This is the amount of money you will receive for holding the bond till maturity, which in this case is 1 year.

If you pay $98 for purchasing the bond, your yield for holding on to the bond for one year can then be calculated as (S$100-S$98) / 98 x 100 = 2.04%.

In other words, you would have earned a return of 2.04%, having paid S$98 upfront, and receiving S$100 in one year's time.

Should I buy the Singapore T-bill with my CPF?

The yield on the T-bill in Singapore is now higher than the prevailing CPF interest rate. Read our analysis on whether it makes sense to invest in the T-bill Singapore using your CPF.

Also, do note that the use of CPFIS funds for investing in T-bills in Singapore is subject to CPF investment guidelines.

You can invest your OA savings after setting aside $20,000 in your OA. And you can invest your SA savings after setting aside $40,000 in your SA.

If you are interested, read here and learn how to buy T-Bills in Singapore using your CPF.

How do I buy T-bills in Singapore?

These are the upcoming key dates you need to know. You may check the full schedule of upcoming auction here.

IssuanceAuction Date
6-month Singapore T-bill 30th March 2023

What you will need for cash application: You can apply through DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB ATMs and internet banking portal. You will also need an individual CDP account with Direct Crediting Services activated . This allows coupon and principal payments to be credited directly into your bank account.

What you will need for SRS application: You  can apply through the internet banking portal of your SRS Operator (DBS/POSB, OCBC, or UOB).

What you will need for CPFIS Application: You will need to submit an application in person at the branch of your respective CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) agent bank (OCBC or UOB), or apply via internet banking if your agent bank is DBS.

For CPFIS-OA investments, you will need a CPF Investment Account with one of the three CPFIS agent banks (DBS/POSB, OCBC, and UOB). There is no need to open any CPF Investment Account if you wish to invest CPFIS-SA funds.

Applications through ATMs and internet banking may close 1 to 2 business days before the auction, as your bank will need to process the application before the auction closes. Do check with your bank for the exact cut-off time for the different application channels.

The minimum bid amount for T-bills in Singapore is S$1,000. So you need to start by deciding how much you want to invest, in multiples of S$1,000.

For new T-bill issues in Singapore, the full bid amount will be deducted from your account at the point of application. So do make sure you have sufficient funds in the account you are using to apply. 

If your bid is unsuccessful, the money will be refunded into the account used to make the application. The refund will be shown in your account 1-2 business days after the auction day.

You can check our Ultimate T-Bills Singapore FAQ guide here if you are looking for quick answers.

How do I know if my T-bill subscription is successful?

After an auction closes, you can check the aggregate results of the auction about an hour later on the issuance calendar.

The T-bills in Singapore are issued 3 business days after the results are announced.

If your bid is successful, the securities will be reflected in your respective accounts after the issuance date. 

  • For cash applications: You can check your CDP statement
  • For SRS application: You can check the statements from your SRS Operator (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB are SRS operators)
  • For CPFIS-OA application: You can check the CPFIS statement sent by your agent bank (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB are CPFIS agent banks)
  • For CPFIS-SA application: You can check your CPF statement

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