Start-ups

Hong Kong start-up developing quantum computing solutions for banking and finance

Alice Woodhouse UPDATED :

A financial technology company launched in Hong Kong last August is working to become a leading player in the use of quantum computing for financial services.

QxBranch is a graduate of the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab in Hong Kong, and is working with global investment banks and hedge funds to develop software to harness the power of quantum computing.

“[In Hong Kong] we got to develop the company’s identity a little more formally around analytics and data analytics for very complex problem sets that are very well suited to the finance industry,” said QxBranch chief executive Michael Brett.

“We’re a software company that builds analytics services that use techniques like machine learning and artificial intelligence built on quantum computing technology.”

Classic computers work in 1s and 0s, whereas in quantum computing, qubits take on 1, 0 and any combination thereof at the same time, allowing data to be processed more quickly.

Quantum computing is expected to transform information technology in the coming years and has been tipped as a powerful tool for the financial industry.

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs is a backer of D-Wave Systems, the world’s earliest quantum computing firm which has sold machines to Lockheed Martin, Google and Nasa.

QxBranch has collaborated with Lockheed Martin to access its D-Wave Two quantum computer to carry out research on complex systems analysis.

Ray Johnson, executive director of QxBranch, who led the purchase of a D-Wave quantum computer at Lockheed Martin as its chief technology officer, said quantum computers behave more like a human thinks than classic computers.

“If you’re driving a car, you don’t go through a calculation of exactly what to do and so that’s when a [classic] computer tries to drive a car, it’s almost overly precise in how it thinks about the world, it can’t take it all in,” Johnson explained.

Johnson said that while the technology is still in its early stages, the amount of research going into the field internationally will bring about wider scale use in the next five to 10 years.

QxBranch employs a total of 15 people in Washington DC, Adelaide, Australia and Hong Kong, where it is focused on developing software for financial institutions.

“There’s a level of complexity in the Asian marketplace that’s really interesting to us, there are many more regulatory environments here that our customers need to be able to deal with,” said Michael Brett, chief executive officer for QxBranch.

“[There are] baskets of currencies and the complexities of equity structures that add to the challenge of doing predictive analytics in this region and that’s what we’re very well suited to.”

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