OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (OneConnect), an associate company of China’s insurance giant and Fortune Top 29 Company Ping An Group, and Singapore Management University (SMU) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly conduct research and develop a Proof of Concept (POC) on the potential of quantum computing to augment blockchain technology.
Whilst in its nascent stages, quantum computing has seen a slew of developments in the past few years. By pushing the envelope of innovation, the alliance between OneConnect and SMU aims to ascertain the potential of quantum computing. Not only is quantum computing inherently faster than current classic computing, it is also potentially capable of handling extremely complex calculations and vast amounts of data to produce highly accurate results.
Blockchain applications are now proliferating, and face new challenges in which the underlying properties such as consensus, must remain robust at ever increasing scale and speed. Given the probabilistic nature of consensus and other areas of blockchain such as searching through on-chain data, many potential gains may be achievable with quantum computers. Quantum computing is already being explored in the financial industry for improved optimisation of the pricing of bonds and for predicting the behaviour of complex financial systems. Also, at the present state of AI technology, some machine learning challenges can be mapped onto quantum systems to potentially work on much larger sets of parameters than on standard systems. It has already been shown that quantum computers can be used to break some current encryption and to improve data transmission security. The technology is moving forward at a fast pace although for most applications, there are currently no quantum computers of sufficient size and low enough noise to realise an advantage over traditional computers.
This research collaboration will focus on studying quantum algorithms that could augment blockchain technology in areas of robust large-scale consensus, efficient on-chain data searching, private record validation, high-speed smart contract processing and interoperability between blockchain networks. A POC will be developed to demonstrate how quantum algorithms can be used in blockchain networks once this technology becomes widely available.
Tan Bin Ru, CEO (Southeast Asia) at OneConnect said: “Unravelling what quantum computing and blockchain can become as a whole, allows OneConnect to be the game changer bringing the best and latest technology to market. This is in line with our commitment to accelerate digital transformation. By incorporating OneConnect’s industry expertise along with SMU’s strong academic research capability, we hope to make innovative contributions towards the development of the blockchain ecosystem in Singapore and the region.”
Professor Pang Hwee Hwa, Dean of SMU School of Information Systems said: “This MOU is the first in a series of planned collaborations between SMU and OneConnect. SMU is developing R&D expertise in blockchain and quantum computing. Through this collaboration, the industry expertise and resources that OneConnect brings will allow us to test our technology in a “real world environment”, and keep our research well aligned with the financial industry.”
The research team is co-led by Associate Professor Paul Griffin from SMU School of Information Systems – whose main research focuses on blockchain applications and more recently, on quantum computing; and Dr Corey Manders, Head of Research and Development at OneConnect Financial Technology. Members of the research team comprise researchers from the SMU School of Information Systems and engineering staff from OneConnect.
The joint research will see SMU leveraging OneConnect’s business expertise and blockchain infrastructure in the real world to obtain concrete data for the research. In addition, OneConnect will also be providing space and resources during the course of the research, including resources to host multiple nodes in a blockchain-based network for research purposes.
The blockchain technology at OneConnect, named FiMax, is helmed by the co-founder of HyperLedger Fabric. FiMax is an open source collaborative platform that advances cross-industry blockchain technology. OneConnect’s blockchain network recently won “Best Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology or Platform Award” by The Asian Banker in 2019, for outstanding technical prowess and rich application scenarios of its blockchain technology.
Following this initial collaboration, OneConnect and SMU are in discussion on forging other partnerships, including student programmes and internship positions at OneConnect. OneConnect also plans to train doctoral students in strategic fields for future resources and intellectual property, under the Economic Development Board (EDB)’s Industrial Postgraduate Programme (IPP).