显然，这里要解决的问题与区块链试图解决的一样：一个可以信任的无法被篡改的交易账本。Waters Magazine曾引用美国一投行CTO的一句话说："量子比特将把区块链技术吹走。"此外，该杂志还引用Dun&Bradstreet咨询公司首席数据科学家Anthony Scriffignano的言论称"我们应该认真重新思考加密技术以及依赖于加密技术的东西比如区块链。在量子世界中，所有高度复杂性的事物都需要重新思考。"
不过，QxBranch CEO Michael Brett也指出，"十年内应该都不会出现一台非常先进足以快速解开区块链类型加密谜题的量子计算机。但是，那时区块链技术应该已经发展成熟能够抵御量子技术或者吸纳量子算法。"
现在明确的是，即使量子计算还有10-15年才主流化，银行也应该关注它的发展。正因为如此，摩根大通和巴克莱成为了IBM Q 网络的创始成员。这样他们可以及早获得IBM量子计算发展成果并能够测试这些技术以分析它们将怎样影响交易战略、投资优化、资产选取和风险分析。
I know that we deal with quite complicated things in financial technologies. AI, AGI, ASI (Artificial Intelligence, Artificial General Intelligence, Artificial Super Intelligence); machine learning and deep learning; blockchain, shared ledgers and distributed ledger technologies; cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies and digital currencies; Open Banking and Open APIs; and so on and so forth.
In fact, the list I’ve just written, can you point me to members of your banks’ board who can articulate what these things are, how they differ and how they apply to your bank?
Thought not, but then that’s my old mantra that banks’ board members don’t all need to be technologists, but at least one must be and ideally a few.
Anywho, this is all about to get a whole lot more complex as quantum computing is being discussed. Quantum computing doesn’t work in binary 1’s and 0’s, but can be in either or both states at the same time. See? I’ve confused you already.
Basically, a quantum computer doesn’t work with bits but with qubits using particles that can be in superposition (two or more quantum states added together to create another state). This is why particles can take on the value 0, or 1, or both simultaneously. The reason that this is important is that it will allow computers to process and store far more information with far less energy and far more speed than current state computers. For example, in 2016, a team of Google and Nasa scientists found a quantum computer was 100 million times faster than a conventional computer. Elsewhere, in a step towards quantum computing, researchers have guided electrons through semiconductors using incredibly short pulses of light. These extremely short, configurable pulses of light could lead to computers that operate 100,000 times faster than they do today.
This is important as many technology firms are developing quantum computing to move towards a quantum internet by 2030. A quantum internet is different to today’s internet in a fundamental way, in that today’s internet uses radiowaves to transmit information; a quantum internet uses quantum signals that are far faster and cheaper to implement. According to the World Economic Forum, China launched the world’s first quantum communication satellite last year, and they’ve since been busy testing and extending the limitations of sending entangled photons from space to ground stations on Earth and then back again. They’ve also managed to store information using quantum memory. By the end of August, the nation plans to have a working quantum communication network to boost the Beijing-Shanghai internet.
This is important in banking because it could displace blockchain, ledger and digital identity developments within a decade. This is because the quantum internet would excel at sending information securely through what is known as quantum encryption. This technology enables banks and businesses to be able to send “unhackable” data over a quantum network. This is because quantum cryptography uses a mechanic called quantum key distribution (QKD), which means an encrypted message and its keys are sent separately. Tampering with such a message causes it to be automatically destroyed, with both the sender and the receiver notified of the situation.
This is obviously something that hits the same issue that blockchain is trying to fix: a tamperproof ledger of transactions that can be trusted. For example, Waters Magazine quotes a CTO of US investment bank, “Qubits would blow away blockchain technology”. They go on to quote Anthony Scriffignano, chief data scientist at consultancy Dun & Bradstreet: “We need to seriously rethink encryption and seriously rethink things that rely on encryption, like blockchain. Anything that is heavily dependent on complexity needs to be reconsidered in a quantum world.”
In another article on Fortune, Silicon Valley Bank Vice President Natalie Fratto believes that blockchain is like a navigational tool through a maze on the ground, whilst quantum is like navigating the same maze using a helicopter. Which would you use?
Blimey! Just as we get to grips with taking blockchain proofs of concept into production trials, it’s already dead …
… or is it?
Waters also quote Michael Brett, CEO of QxBranch, who believes that “it will take a very advanced quantum computer, something on a scale we won’t see for at least a decade, to come close to rapidly unlocking blockchain-type cryptographic problems. By then, blockchain technologies will have matured to be quantum resistant or incorporate quantum algorithms into their problems.”
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and UBS are experimenting with quantum technology with QxBranch, which has a quantum simulator.
So will quantum kill blockchain or not? We will see.
There’s another question here though: will quantum currencies kill crypto currencies?
Stephen Wiesner gave birth to the idea of quantum money in the late 1960s. Half a century later, technology and understanding of quantum mechanics has increased dramatically such that practical developments of quantum money are being researched.
This is because quantum computing allows us to create an unclonable, unreproducible minted currency due to the unique properties of quantum states, where you cannot copy what you don’t know and if you try to read it, you will not get the correct answer. Another way of conceptually thinking about it is that the quantum states are constantly in flux, and the only time the correct answer is given to you is if you present the right question. Essentially, the quantum money mint can hold all the answers, and thus be the central verification unit behind the system.
This last point is clearly favouring centralised institutions like central banks, and may be a good reason why quantum money takes off faster than cryptocurrencies. Having said that, there’s already a company out there resisting the change by combining blockchain and quantum computing to create a Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL). Their mission statement:
The Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) will be a first of its kind, future-proof post-quantum value store and decentralized communication layer which tackles the threat Quantum Computing will pose to cryptocurrencies.
It is clear that, even if quantum computing is ten to fifteen years away from becoming a mainstream technology, it is something that banks need to be watching. This is why JPMorgan Chase and Barclays became founding charter members of IBM’s Q Network. This gives them access to IBM’s quantum computing developments early, and allows these banks to test and see how such technologies might impact trading strategies, portfolio optimisation, asset pricing and risk analysis.
Another space to watch in our never-ending spaces to watch.