Smart Contracts in the Construction Industry: A Systematic Review

Ishara Rathnayake, Gayan Wedawatta, Algan Tezel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


On-time delivery of documentation and contracts has been recognized as a crucial requirement for the successful delivery of projects. However, the construction industry still depends on time-consuming traditional contract processes, which negatively affect the overall productivity of projects in the industry. The use of Smart Contracts (SCs) is highlighted as a suitable novel technology to expedite the contract processes and establish a reliable payment environment in the construction industry. Whilst there has been an increase in the debate about the use of SCs in construction in recent years, their use in practice still seems to be in its infancy. As such, the topic will benefit from a thorough review of benefits, drivers, barriers and strategies that can enhance the implementation of SCs in construction. This article presents the key findings from a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) on SCs in the construction industry, critically assessing existing studies on the topic. The study initially involved 171 research papers for the SLR process, and out of that 49 research papers were filtered for further analysis after reading their abstracts. A total of 30 papers were finally filtered after the full-text reading for the SLR. Descriptive and content analysis were used to analyse the full-text findings. The study graphically mapped the bibliographic materials by using the Visualization of Similarities (VoS) Viewer software. As per the findings, the topic has mostly been researched in Asia and the Pacific as a region and China as a country. It was noted that there were more empirical articles than theoretical studies related to SCs, evidencing the industry relevance of the issue. A total of 55% of the articles reviewed have been published in journals with a Q1 ranking. All the articles were written by multiple authors, with 30% of the journal articles having international co-authors and benefitting from the collaboration between authors. Key advantages identified in the literature go beyond contract and payment provisions and include aspects such as logistic handling, decentralized applications, business process management, automated payments, etc. Key drivers for adoption are supply chain pressure, competitive pressure, top management support, simple layout, reduction in risks of clients, clarity in responsibility and risk allocation, whereas the key barriers include insecurity, limited observability, incompatibility, inactive government collaboration and limited storage capacity. Key strategies to enhance the application of SC in construction include integrating theorems proving symbolic execution, using the selective transparency method and lock fund system, testing the integration of SCs with other systems at the initial stage, incorporating semi-automated consensus mechanisms for payments, constructing a mechanism to actively engage with government bodies, etc
Original languageEnglish
Article number2082
Number of pages24
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Smart contracts
  • Construction industry
  • Automation
  • Blockchain
  • BIM
  • Systematic Literature Review


Dive into the research topics of 'Smart Contracts in the Construction Industry: A Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this