With the help of researchers using IBM’s cloud-based quantum computer concept, cryptocurrencies may soon be replaced by a new and improved way of making payments — quantum checks.
Quantum Computing: Reimagining Old Money
The researchers have been hard at work testing out the concept of securing money transfers by leveraging quantum mechanics, with the emphasis of making traditional checks, of all things, the most secure way of sending money.
Quantum money is not a new idea, having been first proposed in the early 1970s. However, the idea hasn’t been possible to test until recently.
The significance comes from the fact that researchers have proven that quantum computers could, in theory, create and cash quantum checks that are nearly impossible to forge.
The study is only a proof-of-concept. But Prasanta Panigrahi, the scientist who led the study at Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research in Kolkata, thinks quantum tech is close enough to maturing for quantum money to become workable in the near future.
As it currently stands, the idea is still not scalable to a wide population, nor it is a particularly convenient way of transferring money.
Additionally, the qubits in the IBM system only last for microseconds at a time. Scott Aaronson of the University of Texas says that ideally “one would like checks that can last longer than that before being cashed or deposited.”
Going From Cryptocurrency to Quantum Checks
Quantum computing has often been invoked when talking about the long-term security of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In short, this is because of quirky characteristics of the quantum world that, when leveraged by a computer, could basically decrypt many of the cryptographic systems of today — including Bitcoin.
Additionally, the ability to make current encryption obsolete means a fully-realized quantum computer could have significant ramifications not just for Bitcoin security, but for electronic security and privacy in general as well.
While Bitcoin isn’t completely helpless against the hypothetical threat, as it could adapt to the threat (implement a soft fork to become more quantum resistant), it would be a real threat nonetheless.
A quantum check, on the other hand, would function in a completely different way from digital currencies. For starters, they wouldn’t be decentralized as they would be issued and verified by commercial banks.
However, the biggest difference would be in how it’s secured: via the bank verifying the polarization of the qubits attached to the check.
For each qubit, any would-be counterfeiter would have a probability ¾ of success in duplicating it correctly — with more and more qubits the success rate would become exponentially smaller.
What do you think of quantum computing being used to secure checks? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images via IBM, Enterra Solutions Manipur Technical University