ABN AMRO collaborates on quantum computing security

ABN AMRO is collaborating with a Dutch university to explore the potential for quantum computing technology to improve cyber security in banking.

The Dutch banking giant said the joint research with QuTech, which is based in Delft University, would investigate the Quantum Key Distribution via glass fibre and through the air, to ensure secure data traffic and make the safety of online banking “future-proof”.

It is widely expected that the arrival of widespread quantum computing - which enables a computer to solve advanced mathematical and cryptographic puzzles in seconds - will have the potential to disrupt the cyber security landscape, as businesses rush to secure their data.

The project’s intention is to use quantum techniques to enable multiple users to be connected via a central measurement and then exchange unique and complex codes that are almost impossible to eavesdrop or hack.

The quantum connection will be established by laser communication via existing fibre-optic connections, as demonstrated by the labs of David Elkouss and Wolfgang Tittel at QuTech.

This fibre-optic connection will be combined with a so-called ‘free space’ (through air) component, developed by TNO Space and Scientific Instrumentation.

“The collaboration provides a unique opportunity to test concrete and real applications of quantum technology in practice,” said Kees Eijkel, director of business development at QuTech. “Each of the collaborating parties brings a clear and essential specialisation to the project.”

The partners expect to be able to demonstrate a fundamentally safe data connection by the end of 2020, in which quantum communication will be via glass fibre and through air.

Edwin van Bommel, chief innovation officer of ABN AMRO, concluded: “The initiative is promising, I was quickly convinced that this is a valuable step towards a new ecosystem in combination with a good business case.”

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