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May 31, 2023

HSBC partners with Quantinuum on quantum banking

Quantinuum says it will work on using quantum natural language programming to analyse customer banking data more accurately.

By Ryan Morrison

HSBC has signed a deal with Quantinuum to explore near and mid-term quantum solutions including risk management and fraud detection. One of the first projects will be to improve cybersecurity using “quantum hardened cryptographic keys”. 

Quantinuum uses a trapped-ion approach to quantum computing and will work with HSBC on machine learning and cryptography (Photo: Quantinuum)
Quantinuum uses a trapped-ion approach to quantum computing and will work with HSBC on machine learning and cryptography. (Photo by Quantinuum)

The financial services sector is expected to be one of the first to see an advantage from quantum technology. This is in part due to the complex nature of the calculations required for everything from the price of derivatives to spotting fraud. Companies are already engaging with and contributing towards quantum algorithms for some of these problems.

As the technology improves, and hardware moves out of the current error-prone noisy era, banks will want to be able to capitalise on this early investment and get an early adopter advantage. For HSBC and Quantinuum this also includes integrating elements of AI with quantum computing through a new form of natural language processing.

Philip Intallura, global head of quantum technologies at HSBC, said: “Our collaboration provides us a great opportunity to access cutting-edge quantum hardware and take our use cases to a truly transformational level. We are looking forward to seeing the results of our joint work and bringing long-term value to the bank.”

Quantinuum became the first company to create and manipulate non-Abelian anyons earlier this month. This is a significant step towards topological qubits, which are seen as the best path to a fault-tolerant quantum computer. This happened using its new H2 quantum processor.

One of the first projects in the new long-range partnership between HSBC and Quantinuum will see them explore ways to make use of quantum hardware in cybersecurity. This will include hardening cryptographic keys with quantum computers and combining them with post-quantum cryptographic algorithms. The aim is to mitigate any future threat from full-scale quantum computers once they become available.

How HSBC will use quantum machine learning

Ilyas Khan, chief product officer of Quantinuum said: “Our collaboration with HSBC brings together a deep expertise in the application of quantum computing across a set of areas that are critical in global finance, such as protecting vital data and assets, managing risk, and creating first-of-its-kind customer service approaches. As we move towards quantum computers that simply cannot be simulated by classical computers, customers will benefit from significant value in terms of innovation, and knowledge.”

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Quantinuum has a product called Quantum Origin. The platform uses the way a quantum computer operates to strengthen cryptographic keys. These will then be used by HSBC to protect transactions and identification processes. This technique is built on classical cybersecurity infrastructure but instead of generating keys with the CPU or GPU, they are produced using a quantum computer to create “provably unpredictable” keys.

The second part of the partnership will see the two companies explore ways HSBC can benefit from the power of quantum computing in the longer term. This will include an exploration of quantum machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence that builds on the power of quantum computing to generate outcomes not otherwise possible.

They will also work on quantum natural language processing, a version of the type of AI models powering tools like ChatGPT but geared for quantum architecture. It uses an explainable model, rather than the “black box” methods of traditional classical large-language models. 

It will work by training quantum states and processes that encode word meanings. This could allow the bank to use it to look for text similarities, required in regulated markets when dealing with customer data.

Read more: Banks are having a quantum computing revolution

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