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Banking's quantum era--from extreme personalization to advanced security
Thursday, May 23, 2024 - 14:30
Computación cuántica. Foto: Unsplash.

Recent advances in this technology promise to transform the way we manage our finances, while ensuring a safer and more efficient future for banks.

“It is the Netflix of the banking world in terms of personalization.” This is how Gabriel Antelo, vice president of Technology at Globant, refers to the scope of quantum computing in the financial sector.

Indeed, quantum computing is emerging as an efficient technological tool in the journey for corporate digital transformation. It is a field of computing that is based on the principles of quantum mechanics to process information and, unlike traditional systems (which uses bits to represent information as 0 or 1 in classical mechanics), quantum computers use qubits (basic unit of quantum computing), which can be in a state of 0, 1, or a superposition of both at the same time.

This means that instead of just understanding "yes" or "no", you can understand more options at the same time. Therefore, it has massive parallel processing capacity, thus allowing complex problems to be solved much more efficiently than classical computers.

Now, given that this technology reaches even the subatomic scale, which implies the manipulation of matter at the particle level, the topic has been the subject of study for the last three decades.

Each new paper published introduces solutions that challenge current technological limits. However, the errors of quantum computing are being corrected at giant steps in recent months, Escolásico Sánchez, Quantum Discipline Leader at BBVA, told AméricaEconomía. This, according to the executive, is due to the fact that ratios of thousands of physical qubits per logical qubit (unit without error) have gone from ratios of only a few dozen.

More simply, it means that quantum computing is improving rapidly. Previously, to have a single qubit you needed thousands of small parts called physical qubits. But now, it only takes a few dozen of these to make a single qubit, so it also means that the technology is becoming more precise and reliable.

For Antelo, these improvements mean more detailed and efficient data processing for the banking industry. Instead of just analyzing banking transactions from the last six months, quantum computing can examine your entire financial history over years to better understand how a person handles money, resulting in greater “personalization” capabilities in services. financial.

“Combinatorial optimization problems, such as investment portfolio optimization or risk management, are good candidates to begin exploring how quantum computing can be applied in the banking sector,” added Jaime Gómez García, head of quantum technologies at Santander. .

It would also be in the processes and artificial intelligence (AI) aimed at “detecting fraud or in the simulation of variables to give product prices,” added BBVA's Sánchez.

However, its current impact is focused on cryptography and, consequently, cybersecurity. In April, Spanish banks Santander, BBVA and CaixaBank took proactive steps against the risks posed by quantum computing by joining the group of founding banks and experts from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States in the Quantum Safe Financial Forum (QSFF.)

This forum, created by Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, aims to address the transition to post-quantum cryptography in the financial sector, identifying challenges and sharing best available practices.

"We cannot ensure the eternal youth of the code, but we can mitigate the problem by moving to post-quantum cryptography, changing the method with which the private and public keys are joined so that it cannot be replicated [principle of quantum entanglement]" , explained Agustín Huerta, senior vice president of Technology at Globant.

The United States government --Huerta exemplifies-- established that all tools used to build systems must have post-quantum cryptography capabilities within a maximum period of two years. Its goal is that by 2030 all its systems operate with this type of algorithms.

But it also has to do with its race for supremacy in quantum computing with China. “Whoever manages to dominate it first will violate the safety of the other,” Huerta explained.

"Therefore, while the adoption of quantum computing may be optional in the next decade depending on a company's interest in preparing in advance for the arrival of the technology, preparation to use secure cryptography is a current obligation," Jaime Gómez sentenced.

This also explains banks' incursion into blockchain as a way to improve security and prepare for future technological advances.

"Global investment is big and allows us to be confident that we will see the development of quantum computers with practical use,” Gómez said. “The challenge that many companies and regions have to address is that of talent,” he added.


The view from the head of quantum technologies at Santander is also shared by that of BBVA and other 300 experts, academies and international organizations, who signed a petition to UNESCO in April to support the declaration of 2025 as the ' International Year of 'Quantum Science and Technology ' .

According to Escolásico Sánchez, BBVA believes in the potential of this technology to solve complex problems that will help improve society and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as the fight against climate change and the development of new materials [superconductors at room temperature], medical treatments [process of discovery of the next drug or vaccine], and renewable energy, among other benefits.

“But, in order to promote these advances, it is necessary that we promote the professional vocations of the specialists of the future,” he explained. “In this sense, the Quantum Year will give visibility to the technology and increase awareness of its potential,” he concluded.



Dax Canchari