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HSBC explores quantum-safe comms to AWS edge

Banking group HSBC is looking at how to secure transactions and the benefits of quantum computing in finance

HSBC has joined the BT and Toshiba commercial quantum secure metro network, connecting its global HQ in Canary Wharf and a datacentre in Berkshire.

The quantum secure transmission test will involve sending data over fibre-optic cables between its global HQ in Canary Wharf and the datacentre. HSBC also hopes to use the trial to improve its understanding of how to use quantum computing on financial service. Its quantum strategy includes trials of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC). HSBC is also exploring applications in quantum computing across optimisation, simulation and machine learning.

The BT and Toshiba quantum-secured metro network uses Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) to connect the two UK sites, which the bank hopes will help to prepare global operations against future cyber threats.

“This quantum-secured connection that leverages AWS edge compute services in a commercial network represents a milestone moment in the adoption and commercialisation of quantum-secure networks,” said Shunsuke Okada, chief digital officer, Toshiba.

The QKD technology will be tested using a number of applications including financial transactions, secure video communications and one-time-pad encryption, as well as AWS edge computing capabilities using an AWS Snowball Edge device.

QKD uses particles of light and the fundamental properties of quantum physics to deliver secret keys between parties. These keys can be used to encrypt and decrypt sensitive data and are safe from eavesdroppers or cyber attacks by quantum computers.

Colin Bell, CEO of HSBC Europe, said: “Our customers, clients and employees expect us to have safe and secure operations and resilient cyber security, so we must stay ahead of the curve. That is why we are already preparing our global operations for a quantum future.”

Bell said the bank has recruited highly trained experts and has invested in strategic partnerships to explore how to deploy quantum technologies as they develop. “Today’s milestone proves the importance of collaboration and demonstrates the significant innovation and progress that can be achieved when industry leaders join forces,” he added.

According to Bell, the insight generated by HSBC’s exploration of quantum-secure communications could have far reaching implications for the bank. “HSBC’s quantum scientists, cyber crime experts and financial specialists will be better able to analyse the potential threat posed by powerful quantum computers and devise strategies to safeguard sensitive information.

“In the future, experts predict QKD will play a key role in protecting financial transactions, client data and proprietary information across the financial sector.”

BT chief security and networks officer Howard Watson said: “It’s critical we ensure our digital infrastructure remains secure against new quantum-based threats. This trial enables global industry partners to collaborate on the next era for network security.”

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