By Carolyn Mathas

Just one year ago, BT and Toshiba created the world’s first commercial quantum secured communications network spanning metro London. Now, HSBC announced that it is the first bank to join it.

HSBC will connect two UK sites using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). The sites include the company’s global HQ in Canary Wharf and a datacenter in Berkshire, 62km apart. Trials will involve financial transactions, secure video communications and one-time-pad encryption scenarios for the secure transmission of test data using fiber-optic cables. AWS edge computing capabilities using an AWS Snowball Edge device in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an important part of the efforts.

QKD technology uses particles of light and the basic properties of quantum physics to exchange secret keys between parties, free from eavesdroppers or cyber-attacks by quantum computers. 

Colin Bell, CEO of HSBC Bank Plc and HSBC Europe stated that the company is spearheading industry-leading trials, recruiting experts, and investing in strong, strategic partnerships to deploy the technologies as they develop. The insight garnered will drive financial cybersecurity application development.

This is not HSBC’s first involvement in quantum. For example, the company has in place a Quantum Program project with a goal of readying global operations for a quantum future. They are also involved in trials of IBM quantum computers in banking applications—having entered a three-year collaboration, and joining IBM’s Quantum Accelerator program, so that HSBC has access to IBM’s quantum computers, including the Eagle 127-qubit processor.

HSBC is also playing a key role in the European Next Applications of Quantum Computing project. A consortium of 12 European companies and research labs will work together to develop potential use cases across a wide range of applications. One area is banking, specifically for risk analytics, machine learning and cybersecurity. HSBC is the only financial services organization involved in the NEASQC project.

Although commercially viable quantum computers are not yet available, the proliferation of funded programs, partnerships and growing use cases may just make their availability a reality sooner and banking safer.

Learn more about the HSBC/UK commercial quantum efforts. Access the press release here.

July 13, 2023