(TheEconomist) Quantum computing is a fundamentally new kind of computing will shake up finance—the question is when.
The finance industry was an early adopter of everything from mainframe computers to artificial intelligence. For most of the past decade more trades have been done at high frequency by complex algorithms than by humans. Now big banks have their eyes on quantum computing, another cutting-edge technology.
Much of the maths at which quantum computing will excel is of interest to bankers. At the IQT Europe conference on December 10th William Zeng, head of quantum research at Goldman Sachs told the audience that quantum computing could have a “revolutionary” impact on the bank, and on finance more broadly.
Many financial calculations boil down to optimisation problems, a known strength of quantum computers, says Marco Pistoia, the head of a research unit at JPMorgan Chase, who spent many years at IBM before that.
Banks are also buying in expertise. Firms including bbva, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered have set up research teams and signed deals with computing firms. The Boston Consulting Group reckons that, as of June, banks and insurers in America and Europe had hired more than 115 experts. “We have more physics and maths phds than some big universities,” jokes Alexei Kondratyev, head of data analytics at Standard Chartered.
quantum financiers acknowledge that, for now, hardware is a limitation. “We’re not yet able to perform these calculations at a scale where a quantum machine offers a real-world advantage over a classical one,” says Mr Biercuk.
When might the financial revolution come? The crucial point, says one observer, is that no one wants to be late to the party. One common worry is that whoever makes a breakthrough first may choose to reap the rewards in obscurity, rather than broadcast the fact to the world.