HSBC Protects Trading Transactions from Cyber Threats with Quantum

Bank pioneers quantum key distribution for AI-powered foreign exchange trading

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

December 12, 2023

2 Min Read
HSBC's London headquarters
HSBC is protecting AI-powered foreign exchange transactions using quantum key distribution. HSBC

Multinational bank HSBC has used quantum key distribution (QKD) to protect an AI-powered foreign exchange trading transaction for the first time.

Electronic trading has transformed financial transactions. HSBC alone processed 4.5 billion payments for its customers last year, worth an estimated value of $4.4 trillion.

Many of these transactions are carried out using HSBC AI Markets, the bank’s digital trading terminal service that uses natural language processing (NLP) to help institutional investors interact with global markets.

Trading data is highly sensitive and protected by encryption, but near-future quantum computers could provide hackers with a way of breaking encryption keys and stealing the data.

HSBC armed AI Markets with QKD to safeguard a €30 million trading scenario from Euros to U.S. dollars. It builds on HSBC’s ongoing work with Toshiba, BT and Amazon Web Services to provide a quantum-secured metro network.

While this transaction represented a one-off demonstration to show that QKD can safeguard trades from quantum attacks, as the technology matures, HSBC plans to integrate it into a commercial, scalable solution.

“The quantum revolution is not on the horizon; it's already here. By investing and experimenting in quantum technologies now, HSBC is not just preparing for the future; we're shaping it,” HSBC Bank and HSBC Europe CEO Colin Bell.  

“Today's trials will define tomorrow's triumphs. Successfully pioneering quantum protection for our FX trading is a significant step with far-reaching implications for the blueprint of our future cybersecurity.

“We are determined to do whatever we can to protect our customers' assets, both now and in the future. This trial marks an important step in this commitment.”

This work represents an important step toward the U.K. Government's ambition to enable the commercial viability of quantum communications as outlined in the recent National Quantum Strategy.    

"In the world of foreign exchange trading, currency dynamics are evolving faster than ever,” said HSBC global head of FX and emerging markets rates and commodities Richard Bibbey. “Ensuring the security of our client’s data is paramount and we must constantly innovate and stay ahead of the curve.”

“This groundbreaking quantum experiment marks a considerable leap in the world of finance. For the first time, we have leveraged the power of quantum communications to further reinforce our secure trading and transactions.”

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About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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