July 12, 2023

3 ways quantum computing could help you

More privacy. Optimized returns. More powerful technology. Quantum computers are on track to benefit Wells Fargo customers in the not-so-distant future.

Editor’s note: This is the third and final part of a Wells Fargo Stories series focused on quantum computing. Read part 1: "5 Big Questions on Quantum Computing Answered” and part 2: “How Wells Fargo is Becoming Quantum-Ready.”

A glowing 3D graphic of the number 3 next to the text: Data privacy, Stock portfolio, Powerful consumer tools
“I am optimistic that we are beginning to enter an era in which we will soon begin to see momentum building around the value and usefulness emerging from quantum computing.” — Chintan Mehta, Wells Fargo’s chief information officer and head of Digital Technology & Innovation

Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but Wells Fargo developers exploring this advanced technology are beginning to find possible quantum opportunities to benefit customers in the future. Here are three ways quantum computing could begin to improve how you bank.  

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More privacy for your data

One thing quantum computers excel at is finding a needle in a haystack. Why’s that useful, you ask?

Take data privacy, for example. When developers use data, such as when they train an artificial intelligence program, they want to protect identifiable information like their birthday or ZIP code.

The traditional protection method of anonymizing data relies on classical computers hiding or taking out customer information, which undercuts the data’s accuracy. With quantum computers being built today, companies can mask data through differential privacy, an increasingly popular security process of distorting data — the needle — in a measurable way involving a near-infinite set of numbers — the haystack. What was once a lengthy affair could be instant.

“Differential privacy is expensive with classical computers, so this was one of the applications of quantum computing we’re exploring, and we have a paper on it in the works,” said Constantin Gonciulea, a technology fellow with Wells Fargo.

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Optimized returns for your stock portfolio

It’s hard to predict stock prices when they can change in a fraction of a second, sometimes for reasons that aren’t obvious. Because quantum algorithms are great at modeling data when we don’t know all the variables, it’s an area where quantum computers could help.

While quantum algorithms aren’t crystal balls that can predict the future, they can more efficiently measure the likelihood of certain outcomes, such as a given stock price, compared with classical computers.

Vanio Markov, a distinguished engineer for Wells Fargo Technology, says one approach could be building mathematical models that simulate how stock prices change called quantum stochastic generators. Quantum could also one day help to train AI to make stock portfolio trading decisions more efficiently, according to Wells Fargo Senior Research Scientist Yen-chi “Samuel” Chen.

These quantum tools could support how financial services companies like Wells Fargo build and maintain investment portfolio algorithms to optimize returns for customers.

“Our quantum models of stock prices are simpler than the classical models … so quantum learning can be very efficient,” Markov said. “We hope that our quantum algorithm will enrich the ensemble of algorithms Wells Fargo uses to estimate stock prices.”

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Supercharged AI to make your life easier

AI is in the limelight this year as powerful tools become available to consumers, but quantum computers could supercharge this technology. Wells Fargo’s quantum experts say there could be major innovations coming from the intersection of AI and quantum.

On top of better protecting customer data, quantum technology could also help Wells Fargo data scientists build machine learning tools more easily by generating synthetic data. Synthetic data, or computer-generated information often modeled on the real thing, is useful because it can be easier to leverage and safer. Plus, more data means there’s more to test and learn from. For example, Wells Fargo developers are looking into using generated financial transaction data to fight fraud.

“The creation of synthetic data … gives us the opportunity to extremely enhance the power of existing customer data,” Markov said.

Tech experts at Wells Fargo see quantum’s potential with AI as especially promising. “We’re having a small team look at quantum opportunities … and we are making progress,” Gonciulea said. “The more we look at quantum, especially tied to AI … this combination we know we’ll eventually find out what problems will benefit from quantum.”