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Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

Pushing the quantum frontier for finance: JPMorgan Chase’s Marco Pistoia

Q-NEXT industry collaborator advances quantum science for the financial sector

An institutional partner of the Q-NEXT quantum research center, JPMorgan Chase is advancing quantum technologies for the financial sector while collaborating with other organizations to push the quantum frontier for all.

There’s a bold, pioneering culture driving our team, says Marco Pistoia, head of Global Technology Applied Research at JPMorgan Chase.

While best known as a global financial institution, JPMorgan Chase has approximately 57,000 technology employees and an annual technology spend of $15.3 billion. The firm is dedicated to pushing emergent technologies such as virtual reality, machine learning, cloud computing — and quantum information technology.

Quantum has been a top priority for the firm’s Global Technology Applied Research Center. It’s one of those technologies where you don’t want to fall behind compared to other competitors,” said Pistoia, who notes that the excitement of working on these cutting-edge problems is part of what drives researchers at the firm. We have a team of superstars here, including leading scientists working on this technology. Everybody is so energetic because they’re so motivated.”

We are a bank, so we deal with confidential data every day, including the data of our clients. So it’s very important that we protect that data… That’s why we’re part of Q-NEXT: so we can provide our input on what the community should do to support financial institutions.” — Marco Pistoia, JPMorgan Chase

In 2022, the Q-NEXT quantum research center welcomed JPMorgan Chase as an industry participant. Pistoia brings the pioneering culture and perspective of a financial services company to Q-NEXT’s research in quantum communication.

Q-NEXT is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Q-NEXT is a top-of-the-line consortium,” Pistoia said. Q-NEXT has prestigious companies as partners, and it’s great to be exposed to potential collaboration opportunities, allowing us to exchange knowledge with other researchers to grow the field overall.”

JPMorgan Chase contributes to Q-NEXT’s mission to develop the technology needed to connect the world through quantum communication networks.

Quantum technologies hold promise for the finance sector. For example, quantum computers are expected to offer significant enhancements in speed and accuracy for optimizing financial portfolios.

Public-key cryptography is extensively used across software, hardware and network infrastructure to ensure privacy of communication and secure client data. While public-key cryptography is secure today, it may be open to attacks enabled by the powerful quantum computing capabilities of the future. Failing to replace today’s vulnerable cryptography in a timely manner with quantum-safe methods exposes the entire financial services industry, including JPMorgan Chase, to potential attacks that will be enabled by advances in quantum computing.

Addressing this risk is urgent. With this type of threat, which the National Security Agency defines as harvest now, decrypt later,” attackers do not need to wait for a powerful quantum computer to start storing information for future decryption. They can take a snapshot of confidential data encrypted today with the intent of decrypting it a few years from now when a sufficiently powerful quantum computer is eventually available. In fact, attackers are known to be doing this already.

In addition to public-key cryptography efforts, a guaranteed method of focus to establish quantum-secured communication channels is quantum key distribution, or QKD, a technology proven to be unconditionally secure. QKD leverages principles of quantum mechanics and allows two parties to generate and use the same secret key for secure communication.

We are a bank, so we deal with confidential data every day, including the data of our clients. So it’s very important that we protect that data,” Pistoia said. That’s why we’re part of Q-NEXT: so we can provide our input on what the community should do to support financial institutions. We need to share the knowledge that we have with the scientific community if we want to collectively advance the state-of-the-art.”

JPMorgan Chase contributed on a recent Q-NEXT report focused on the mediating technologies — called quantum interconnects — that transfer quantum information between storage devices. The report, A Roadmap for Quantum Interconnects,” outlines the steps the scientific community needs to take to increase the viability of quantum communications in the next couple of decades.

JPMorgan Chase invited Pistoia to serve as the company’s head of Global Technology Applied Research in 2020. At the time, he was a senior manager, distinguished research staff member and master inventor at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York, where he managed an international team of researchers responsible for quantum computing algorithms and applications. He is the inventor of more than 250 patents, granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and more than 300 patent-pending applications. Over 40 of his patents are in the area of quantum computing.

Over the last three years, Pistoia has grown the Applied Research lab into a successful hub of scientific innovation dedicated to pushing the technological envelope in numerous research areas.

It’s so exciting to think that we’ve been able to achieve this momentum, helping to advance quantum information science and contribute to the security of financial services in the future,” he said.

This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science National Quantum Information Science Research Centers as part of the Q-NEXT center.

About Q-NEXT

Q-NEXT is a U.S. Department of Energy National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by Argonne National Laboratory. Q-NEXT brings together world-class researchers from national laboratories, universities and U.S. technology companies with the goal of developing the science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. Q-NEXT collaborators and institutions have established two national foundries for quantum materials and devices, develop networks of sensors and secure communications systems, establish simulation and network test beds, and train the next-generation quantum-ready workforce to ensure continued U.S. scientific and economic leadership in this rapidly advancing field. For more information, visit https://​q​-next​.org/.

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.