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Scotiabank gears up for the quantum computing age

Scotiabank gears up for the quantum computing age

As the quantum computing revolution gathers pace, Scotiabank in Canada has begun to explore the migration to encryption methods that can keep out the hackers of the future.

Last year, Google confirmed its "quantum supremacy" breakthrough when its Sycamore quantum processor completed a complex calculation that would have taken the world’s most powerful classical supercomputer, the Summit, 10,000 years to solve.

While commercial use of quantum computers may still be some years away, the Google milestone has given an added urgency to the financial services industry's attitude to the technology, which offers both big rewards and big risks.

Scotiabank chief risk officer Daniel Moore says the bank is already thinking about the implications for data security and moving to quantum-safe encryption methods.

"Those are classical methods, but they're demonstrably safe from quantum decryption,” Moore says in a blog post. “We're understanding what the solutions to the problem are, and we’re starting to have that dialogue about what our defensive strategy would be. What are your crown jewel assets that you need to protect first, with the highest defences, and how would you do that?”

On the opportunity side, Scotiabank has been working with BMO Group and Toronto-based photonic quantum computing specialist Xanadu to explore how to increase the speed and accuracy of computations in trading.

The proof-of-concept used an algorithm developed by Xanadu called quantum Monte Carlo and a software suite to simulate it on various trading products.

"It's a thousand-fold-plus speed increase on the most complicated calculations we do. And speed over repeated calculations gives us better accuracy," says Scotiabank programmer Tom Pickering.

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