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Fintech: Quantum computing is no longer science fiction

In the ever-evolving landscape of technological disruption, quantum computing stands alone in terms of its potential for numerous sectors, especially finance, banking and money.

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Poking fun at the lofty predictions of technology maximalists can be too easy. 

Nuclear fusion, driverless cars and general artificial intelligence are always about five years away. Whatever the year. 

Quantum computing, another tech paradigm shift which seems to be lifted from a science fiction novel, however, could actually be close to finally becoming a reality.

And, funnily enough, banks and other financial services providers seem to be quietly getting involved more than any other industry.

Quantum computing, which operates on the principles of quantum mechanics, using quantum bits or ‘qubits’ to perform incredibly complex computations that traditional computers cannot handle easily, has been trending up in terms of investment.

This revolutionary tech promises the offer of exponential improvements in speed and processing.

Dealroom says European venture investment into quantum doubled last year, from a relatively low base, to c.$250m. 

This week HSBC and Quantinium revealed they are finance tech’s latest dance partners, in a deal involving a number of projects scoping “short- and long-term business uses cases”.

The deal is light on hard facts about how HSBC will be using quantum computers any time soon. 

But not only did the bank - which operates in 62 countries and has 39 million customers - reveal its interest through the partnership but also that it has its own in-house quantum team, led by Philip Intallura a relatively young former scientist turned banker.

AltFi spoke to Ilyas Khan, chief technology officer at Quantinium, three years ago on the subject

Khan said that owing to the cost associated with accessing quantum bundles - the computers, software and, perhaps most important, the talent to use them - will hand an advantage to big banks. 

"[This] will mean it is the domain of the incumbents,” he said. 

“For startups, the bigger concern should not be can I access a quantum computer, it should be is what I am doing right now at existential risk from what could happen with quantum computing. 

“We talk about the word disruptive all the time. This is the epitome of the word disruptive.” 

With growing VC investment and involvement from incumbent banking giants, this new world of quantum opportunities should not be ignored. For fintech startups, this may well be even more pertinent than their incumbent rivals. 

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