Commonwealth Bank gets Asia-Pacific’s first quantum computing simulator outside university sector

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The Commonwealth Bank has become the first non-university institution in the Asia-Pacific to acquire a quantum computing simulator, announced supplier QxBranch today.

Quantum computing is technology that allows the simultaneous analysis of a massive number of different outcomes, which is theoretically infinitely more powerful than traditional computers that work out outcomes sequentially. For decades, researchers have been working around the globe to stabilise this power to build a quantum computer for practical use in complex scientific calculations, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Quantum computing simulators emulate such a computing environment, so that software development and research can be performed in preparation for the eventual availability of quantum hardware.

While universities have had quantum computing simulators, QxBranch claims that the deployment at Commonwealth Bank is the first outside of the academic sector in all of the Asia-Pacific.

QxBranch chief executive Michael Brett said that the simulator would enable the development of software to solve problems in almost all parts of a financial institution.

“Risk management, trading, portfolio management, analysis, and security – there are few areas of finance that won’t be touched,” he said.

Commonwealth Bank has a track record of interest in quantum computing. In 2015, the bank granted $10 million to a University of NSW team working on the technology, backing the project that was trying to implement quantum computing on traditional silicon chips.

CBA chief information officer David Whiteing said that the organisation had a long history of supporting the community in research, and the acquisition of the simulator was the latest such endeavour.

“Quantum computing brings with it many benefits due to the speed and complexity of problems it can calculate and resolve. By developing a simulated quantum computing environment this allows us to assess the feasibility and performance of applications well before the first silicon-based quantum computer is finished,” he said.

QxBranch stated that while the Commonwealth is running the simulator on its own equipment, the product can also be installed in the cloud, and that companies that adopt the technology now would be in a position later to “exploit once-in-a-generation business opportunities”.

“Quantum computing will transform data analytics, and the finance industry will be among those most likely to experience both capability and business growth,” said QxBranch executive chair Dr Ray O Johnson.

QxBranch – with headquarters in Washington DC and branches in Hong Kong, London, and Adelaide — has previously applied its technology in finance, security, biotech, energy and sport. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited the company during a trip to DC in January last year and attempted to explain the concept to journalists last April.

Commonwealth Bank explains quantum computing. (Source: CBA)