​Commonwealth Bank prepares for quantum computing with launch of QxBranch simulator

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has partnered with QxBranch to build a quantum computing simulator as it readies for the availability of the real thing.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has partnered with quantum computing and data analytics software firm QxBranch to develop a quantum computing simulator.

According to QxBranch CEO Michael Brett, the tool emulates the functions of future quantum computers, and aims to enable software and algorithm development to be ready for when quantum computers become available.

"The difference between the emulator of a quantum computer and the real hardware is that we run the simulator on classical computers, so we don't get the benefit of the speed up that you get from quantum, but we can simulate its behaviour and some of the broad characteristics of what the eventual hardware will do," Brett told ZDNet.

"What we provide is the ability for people to explore and validate the applications of quantum computing so that as soon as the hardware is ready, they'll be able to apply those applications and get the benefit immediately of the unique advantages of quantum computing."

Although tight-lipped on what the bank will be using the QxBranch Quantum Computing Simulator System for, Brett said that enterprises are driven by data, and having an advantage through quantum computing is something that many are seeking to create.

"We're really excited to able to launch the simulator and to make it available to other companies and researchers, and folks that are interested in how quantum computing might apply to their business," he said.

Quantum computers will offer new approaches to solving complex, multi-variable problems, such as those currently addressed using machine learning, and artificial intelligence, Brett said. The basis of the computational speedup is an ability to assess a massive range of possible outcomes simultaneously, rather than in sequence or in parallel.

"Our simulator gives users the power to start developing applications for critical financial operations today," he added. "Risk management, trading, portfolio management, analysis, and security -- there are few areas of finance that won't be touched."

Although QxBranch is head quartered in Washington DC, the bulk of the company's development team is based Adelaide, and the partnership with CBA came about through a mutual involvement in the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

"Commonwealth Bank have been one of the leading champions of quantum computing in Australia," Brett said.

"Over a number of years they've been involved in supporting the development of silicon-based quantum computers through collaboration with CQC2T. So we established a relationship with them and over the past year we've been working with them to help them imbed the technology within their organisation."

CBA made its interest in quantum computing known in 2015 when it announced a five year, AU$10 million investment to support UNSW's researchers.

At the time, CBA CEO Ian Narev said the potential benefits of quantum computing are transformational, and noted that the work being performed by UNSW shows that Australian innovation can be world-leading.

"Our investment has a long-term focus and is an example of potential collaboration and commercialisation," Narev said previously. "It enables us to support innovation in Australia as well as aligning ourselves with innovation that we believe will materially benefit our customers and shareholders over the next decade."

CBA's quantum computer simulator is modelled on the hardware UNSW is developing.