Westpac has taken a 11% stake in cyber security firm QuintessenceLabs

Image: Getty/ Joe Raedle

Westpac has taken a strategic stake in Canberra-based IT security firm QuintessenceLabs as the bank seeks to keep its critical data secure.

The bank’s 11% in the company, chaired by Dr Peter Shergold, Australia’s top public servant during the Howard era, will be used to boost the Westpac’s security capabilities as well as cutting down the time and costs associated with encrypting confidential data.

The cost of the investment has not been disclosed. Westpac has the option to increase its stake to 16%.

QuintessenceLabs was founded in 2006 by its Indian-born CEO Vikram Sharma, who has a doctorate in quantum physics. His encryption system uses new technology that generates high quality “keys”, made up of random numbers generated from unpredictable measurements of quantum effects on a bright laser beam.

The business was named Australia’s most innovative small company last year. Former Westpac strategy and Mergers and acquisitions boss Jon Nicholson is a director. The bank’s technology general manager, Robert Wilson. will join the board.

Westpac Group CIO Dave Curran says the investment will give the bank access to a pipeline of innovations being developed by QuintessenceLabs, both in Australia and the US.

“Protection of customer information and sensitive commercial data is an industry-wide priority,” he says. “This investment signals Westpac is stepping up its proactive, strategic approach to building our security capabilities now and in the future.”

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