6 reasons we need to start thinking about quantum computing now

February 7, 2022 | By Deborah Lynn Blumberg

Quantum computing used to sound like something out of a sci-fi film. The technology uses principles of quantum physics to solve complex problems exponentially faster than today’s supercomputers can.

Today, quantum computing is becoming a reality. According to one recent survey, 69% of global enterprises have already adopted or plan to adopt quantum computing in the near term, while the emerging technology is estimated to create up to $850 billion in annual value by 2040.

While classical, or traditional computers, can perform the same tasks as quantum computing, they take much longer — for an especially complex problem, perhaps thousands or even millions of years. Traditional laptops and servers won’t go away, says Steve Flinter, head of research and emerging technology at Mastercard Foundry. “We’ll see a hybrid, integrated approach where the right device will be used to solve a problem,” he says. “Quantum will solve a specialized range of hard and interesting problems.”

It’s already beginning to transform financial services. Last week, experts across the industry shared insights into the technology, the potential it holds and the risks it could pose at a Mastercard Foundry Live event.

Here are six things you need to know about going quantum:

In financial services, the applications are endless — and they're already in the works. 

Companies are exploring applications that could help with portfolio optimization, secure communications, transaction settlements and ultrafast trading platforms. Alan Baratz, CEO of quantum computing company D-Wave Systems, has been working with a customer on a fraud detection system that taps into machine learning and a combination of classical and quantum computing, and financial services company BBVA has worked on optimizing portfolios within a given risk profile. With quantum computing, they crunched the data in less than three minutes, as compared with 30 hours with a traditional computer.


Quantum computing will help create highly customized experiences for customers. 

Today’s customers expect high degrees of personalization, and quantum computing can help deliver on that expectation — again through its unique power to analyze huge numbers of potential combinations of options or solutions. “There’s clearly a trend toward the idea of ‘bank of me,’ ” Flinter says. “Customers are looking for highly personalized solutions, and I think quantum becomes a part of that solution.”

Opportunities abound, but so do risks

In the past few years, quantum computing has moved from the research lab into engineering, and it can quickly solve important, complex problems as it simultaneously considers all possible solutions. Though likely years away, bad actors using quantum computing’s power may be able to more easily decrypt messages sent using existing public-key cryptography and ultimately compromise the security of key systems that are not quantum-proofed.

Quantum computing could help the planet

It’s too early to say for sure, but quantum computing applications may well emerge that could help with sustainability, says Robert Sutor, technology leader for quantum computing research at IBM Research. For example, quantum computing could help better predict weather patterns, allowing airlines to more efficiently reschedule and reroute flights when storms hit, ultimately helping them use less fuel.


The field is very much still evolving

Expect major advancements over the next five to ten years not just in quantum computing, but also in artificial intelligence and blockchain. “Where these streams will cross will be very interesting,” says Peter Bordow, head of quantum and emerging technology research and development at Wells Fargo. “We may end up in different areas that we haven’t even thought of yet.”


Companies should start preparing now

Top of mind should be cybersecurity and the risk that quantum poses to networks and systems. Companies should uncover their vulnerabilities and migrate to more advanced encryption schemes, but, Bordow says, “it’s not as simple as ‘lift and shift,’ or replacing one algorithm for another. There’s a complex landscape of potential solutioning.” Start recruiting the next generation of quantum scientists and developers, too, he advises, form partnerships and think about acquisitions. “Take a metered approach,” he adds. “This is not a sprint, but a marathon.”

Mastercard Foundry Live

Quantum computing: Promise and possibilities

An expert panel discusses the promise of quantum computing and what’s possible across the financial sector in a Mastercard Foundry Live event hosted by Dave Fleming, Foundry’s global head of research and development.

Deborah Lynn Blumberg, contributor