The Value of Smart Contract in Trade Finance

Xiaoyu Wang, Fasheng Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Problem definition: Smart contract improves the supply chain efficiency by enabling the supplier’s commitment to postshipment financing decisions, which mitigates the bank’s lending risk exposure and thereby reduces the financing cost. This paper investigates how smart contract adoption could facilitate trade finance activities and create value for supply chain firms. Academic/practical relevance: As the emerging blockchain technology could potentially reshape the trade financing landscape, understanding the impact of smart contract adoption and its interaction with trade finance activities is practically relevant and of great importance. Methodology: We develop a two-stage game-theoretic model and adopt supply chain finance theory to characterize the strategic interactions between supply chain firms in the presence of both operational risk (demand uncertainty) and financial risks (credit and liquidity risks). Results: We find that the value of smart contract depends critically on the trade finance structures, including both preshipment and postshipment financing schemes. Under the baseline trade finance model (with purchase order financing as preshipment financing and factoring as postshipment financing), smart contract alleviates the supplier’s overpricing behavior caused by commitment frictions and helps restore the supply chain efficiency. When buyer direct financing serves as an alternative preshipment financing, smart contract might discourage the retailer from offering buyer direct financing, which significantly hurts the supplier and thus reduces the supply chain profit. When invoice trading serves as the alternative postshipment financing, the supplier always chooses invoice trading over factoring because of its trading flexibility, which in turn, makes the commitment frictions ubiquitous and unresolvable (namely, commitment trap). As a result, invoice trading could unexpectedly lead to a lower supplier’s profit. Luckily, such an adoption dilemma can be resolved by smart contract adoption in conjunction with factoring. Managerial implications: Our findings provide guidelines for and insights into when smart contract should be adopted and its interactions with different trade finance schemes. In particular, smart contract adoption does not always benefit the supply chain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2056-2073
Number of pages18
JournalManufacturing and Service Operations Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • FinTech
  • buyer direct financing
  • factoring
  • invoice trading
  • purchase order financing
  • smart contract
  • supply chain finance
  • trade finance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'The Value of Smart Contract in Trade Finance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this