Dutch bank and researchers begin defence against quantum computing’s dark side

ABN Amro is working with QuTech to ensure that banks can protect data against quantum computers in the future

Netherlands bank ABN Amro is working with researchers to explore how quantum computing technology can be used to secure online banking.

The banking giant is working with QuTech, which was jointly established by Delft University of Technology and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, to prove that quantum key distribution can be used to secure data traffic.

In a few years, quantum computers will be able to make calculations that traditional computers are fundamentally unable to do. If practical, they would mark a leap forward in computing capability far greater than that from the abacus to a modern computer.

ABN Amro said in a statement: “This has many positive implications for future applications and developments. However, quantum technology can be used not only for good, but for darker purposes as well.”

In the future, quantum computers will be able to crack encryption methods, and today’s security systems for internet and mobile banking will no longer be sufficient.

Martijn Dekker, chief information security officer (CISO) at ABN Amro, said: “We all need to move from ‘talk’ to ‘walk’ – it’s time for action. We can only hope that this kind of technology-driven development is embraced at an early stage.”

For example, the bank’s collaboration will focus on creating a new form of quantum key distribution to allow several users to connect with each other and to exchange unique and complex codes. “It’s virtually impossible to eavesdrop on this technology,” said ABN Amro.

Kees Eijkel, director of business development at QuTech, said ABN Amro’s experience in working with sensitive data was what QuTech was looking for in a partner. “We wanted to test concrete and real applications on a party in ‘real life’,” he said. “Each of the partners brings a specific and essential specialisation to this pioneering project.”

Five application areas for quantum computing

  1. Drug and materials discovery: Untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of medicines and materials.
  2. Supply chain and logistics: Finding the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and supply chains, such as optimising fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season.
  3. Financial services: Finding ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments.
  4. Artificial intelligence (AI): Making facets of AI, such as machine learning, much more powerful when datasets can be too big, such as searching images or video.
  5. Cloud security: Making cloud computing more secure by using the laws of quantum physics to enhance private data safety. 

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