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Quantum Readiness for the Financial Sector

Global Risk Institute


Quantum computing is on the horizon and GRI’s webinar “Quantum Readiness for the Financial Sector” on February 10, 2021, hosted by Vanda Vicars GRI Chief Operating Officer, brought together a distinguished group of experts to explore the topic. What is Quantum computing and how will it impact financial services? How do we ensure our organizations are ready and what is happening globally in this next level of technology?

Ms. Vicars welcomed a panel of global experts to discuss the latest thinking on quantum readiness and how organizations are preparing in the United States, Europe and in Canada. The expert panel featured:

  • Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Avast Software. Ms. Baloo has worked in the cybersecurity area for nearly 20 years. She won the Cyber Security Executive of the year award in 2015 and is one of the top 100 influencers in the field.
  • Bob Blakley, Operating Partner at Team8. He was previously Global Director of Information Security Innovation at Citi. He recently served as a member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Technical Assessment of the Feasibility and Implications of Quantum Computing.
  • Steve Hawkins is Scotiabank’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Senior Vice President, Information Security & Control and leads a team of more than 700 information security professionals that protect over $1 trillion in assets, and information for 25 million customers across 50+ countries.
  • Michele Mosca, is CEO of evolutionQ, Executive Director of Quantum-Safe Canada, and co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. He is the author of GRI’s latest research report: Quantum Threat Timeline Report 2020.

Quantum computers use quantum systems to run computations that go beyond what is achievable by standard computers. They do this by exploiting quantum features that are difficult to preserve and control; this makes building a quantum computer an immense challenge.

Once available, full-fledged quantum computers will be able to solve many computational problems previously thought to be intractable, including breaking several elements of the current cybersecurity infrastructure. The quantum threat to cybersecurity can be mitigated by deploying new cryptographic tools, both conventional and quantum, that are believed or known to be resistant to quantum attacks. The transition to quantum-safe cryptography is a challenge for all sectors

Each of the panelists made introductory comments and then moved to a Q&A with the 200+ attendees representing more than 80 different organizations. Here are some of the highlights of the session:

  • Quantum computing will be transformational – If we were able to see 50 years into the future, we would find the impact of quantum technology is going to be overwhelming and that quantum computing will be more transformational than conventional computing.
  • Education needs to start in elementary school – To prepare for this next level of technology, education needs to begin early, starting with young children in elementary school and bringing them along as they enter post-secondary education and the workforce. Workforce development of quantum literacy will be absolutely key.
  • Quantum readiness is a key strategic objective in Europe – Quantum readiness is already a key strategic objective across the European Union. Canada too needs to embrace these technologies and develop talent that can leverage this technology.
  • Canada has the opportunity to take a leadership role – There needs to be a significant amount of cooperation and coordination across the financial services ecosystem to address the security threats quantum computing poses. Scotiabank is working in partnership with the University of Waterloo where there are excellent capabilities and research underway. Canadian financial institutions are working closely with cryptographers to move from quantum risk to a state of quantum safe and readiness.
  • Every organization needs to appoint a strong executive to lead quantum computing – Organizations should identify now a dedicated executive who is responsible for leading the organization’s quantum preparation and to build the capabilities and talent that will be needed to successfully lead this transformation.


Headshot of Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Avast Software

Jaya Baloo


Headshot of Bob Blakely, Operating Partner at Team8

Bob Blakley

Headshot of Steve Hawkins, GRI

Steve Hawkins

Headshot of Michele Mosca, co-founder and deputy director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo

Michele Mosca