(SeekingAlpha) Companies and industries outside of the quantum world are keeping a careful eye on the success of IonQ, hoping that the company — or another like it — could neutralize the threat that quantum computing holds for cryptography, which lies at the heart of all digital encryption. Many industries are feeling the pressure, but cryptocurrency in particular is watching with mounting anxiety.
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For cryptocurrencies, quantum is both cure and disease
While even today’s quantum computers aren’t able to calculate these keys, it’s widely predicted that quantum computing will eventually mature enough to be able to do so. That means that hackers could steal sensitive, encrypted material today, and wait for quantum computing systems to reach the point where they can decode them.
Secure cryptography is the basis for all blockchain-verified transactions, which serve as the trust foundation for cryptocurrencies, provenance chains for high-value, often-trafficked goods like diamonds, and decentralized finance (defi) platforms like peer-to-peer lending.
Security, privacy, and decentralization are the essence of cryptocurrencies and the wider blockchain world. If the cryptography on which they depend can no longer be trusted, the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem could come crashing down.
There’s also the risk of a 51% attack, which is when a hacker controls more than half of the blocks on a blockchain and then adds fake blocks to alter transactions, making the whole chain completely unreliable.
It’s a given that whatever can be developed legally can – and will. There’s no way to put the genie back in the bottle.Fortunately, quantum companies are working on more secure quantum cryptography. For example, QRNG cryptography uses quantum’s intrinsic uncertainty to produce key codes that are almost impossible even for other quantum computers to replicate; QKD is based on quantum’s antipathy to cloning; and other protocols use quantum puzzles which rival quantum systems would struggle to resolve. The only obstacle is the need for powerful enough quantum computers, but IonQ is well on the way to resolving it.
Crypto’s quantum panic could be good news for investors
IonQ’s NYSE debut indicates that quantum tech has staying power, while the fraught hope of crypto and other encryption-reliant sectors for quantum cryptography is testimony to the strength of demand for ongoing quantum computing development. All of this is encouraging for anyone who wants to invest in quantum computing stocks, indicating potential for long-term gains.
IonQ could shape the market
IonQ has three qualities to be reckoned with – a powerful computer system, cloud-based access, and photon manipulation. This could set the standard for other quantum computing companies.
IonQ takes a unique approach to qubit manipulation. Most systems rely on synthetic ions which are strung on wires, but this makes them unstable and prone to misalignment whenever they are touched. IonQ, in contrast, suspends trapped ions in a vacuum and uses photons to manipulate them, which it says makes the system more stable.
IonQ is currently the only company to sell access to a cloud-based quantum computing system. IonQ’s compute power is available through Google Cloud, Amazon Braket, and Microsoft Azure, and is already in use by the likes of Fidelity financial services and Goldman Sachs investment banking.
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