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HSBC and PayPal tackle quantum-safe cryptography in payments

HSBC and PayPal tackle quantum-safe cryptography in payments

HSBC and PayPal are among the founding member of a new working group investigating the adoption of quantum-safe cryptography in the payments industry.

Experts predict that over the next decade cryptographically relevant quantum computers will start posing cybersecurity risks. The technology could be used to break today’s encryption standards, such as RSA, leaving data that is currently safe, vulnerable.

A recent DTCC white paper warned that quantum computing could "create significant new risks for financial firms by making even the most highly protected computer systems vulnerable to hacking".

The new working group aims to get ahead of the curve, looking at policy, regulation, and operator business processes for quantum-safe cryptography specifically for the protection of payment rails

The group has been set up by the Emerging Payments Association Asia (EPAA), with HSBC and PayPal joined by IBM and Australian Payments Pus as founder members.

Participants will explore intends to help define requirements, identify dependencies, use cases, and create a roadmap to implement post-quantum networking to mitigate the anticipated risks associated with future, cryptographically relevant quantum computers.

"Given the accelerated advancements of quantum computing, data and systems secured with today’s encryption could become insecure in a matter of years. We are pleased to work with the EPAA to help advance the industry’s move to adopt quantum-safe technology,” says Ray Harishankar, IBM Fellow - IBM Quantum Safe.

In a related development, a group of European banks have joined the Quantum Safe Financial Forum (QSFF), a safe space for collaboration between European and US financial firms promoted by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). The alliance aims to foster the creation of new technological systems within the financial industry that are safe, secure and resilient to malicious attacks that rely on quantum computing.

Banks taking part in the QSFF alliance, include BBVA, Banco Santander, CaixaBank, Barclays Bank, BNP Paribas, Dutch Banking Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken), European Banking Federation, FS-ISAC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mastercard, Moody’s, Novo Banco and Rabobank.

“Current quantum computers are experimental and, while they might not seem to pose much of a threat today, they may do so in the near future. With that in mind, we must protect the confidentiality of our data and communications until that future arrives,” explains Escolástico Sánchez, leader of Quantum Discipline at BBVA. “With the creation of the QSFF, banks are now getting ahead of the threat curve, as they begin to build security systems that are robust and capable of shielding our own data, and that of our customers, from the malicious use of this kind of technology.”

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