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The Emerging Payments Association Asia (EPAA), a regional payments trade body in Asia, has formed a working group to assess adoption of quantum-safe cryptography.

EPAA made the announcement at Money 20/20 Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, eyeing up the use of quantum-safe cryptography for protection of payments rails and processes. 

The association expects that more advanced quantum computing technologies could compromise existing cryptography, requiring payments stakeholders to explore how to secure and protect operations.

EPAA CEO, Carmilla Bullock, said: “The goal of this work group is to bring together leading global financial services providers, as founding members, with experts from IBM, HSBC, AP+ and PayPal to collaborate as, or with, the business, operators, and ecosystem partners. 

“Together, we aim to understand and implement post-quantum protocols, defining approaches to protect critical payments infrastructure, processes, customer data, and payment flows through agreed upon policies, enhancing resilience in future networks.”

Some prominent names in international payments are counted as founding members of the working group. This includes IBM, HSBC, AP+ and PayPal. 

The group’s members aim to investigate policy, regulation and operator business processes to recommend steps for implementing quantum-safe cryptography.

Quantum computing is becoming increasingly advanced and powerful, EPAA has asserted, and this has in turn threatened existing encryption standards, such as the RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman) cryptosystem.

The primary concern of EPAA and its payment members is that this threat to encryption would in turn put the industry’s data at risk. The association’s working group aims to create a roadmap by identifying dependencies and use cases for quantum-safe cryptography.

Ray Harishankar, IBM Fellow – IBM Quantum Safe, said: “Given the accelerated advancements of quantum computing, data and systems secured with today’s encryption could become insecure in a matter of years.

“We are pleased to work with the EPAA to help advance the industry’s move to adopt quantum-safe technology.”

The working group has set itself three key objectives – firstly is formulation of strategy, by integrating post-quantum capabilities into banking and payment technologies, business processes and security.

Second is standardisation, by identifying needs and common alignments for integration of post-quantum capabilities into existing payments networks, and lastly is policy, via communication about payments network public policy, regulation and compliance.

Mary Ann Francis, Advisory Board Member and Co-chair of the WG-QSC, added: “This technology also brings true business/revenue opportunities in Payments, Treasury and Cash Management in a real-time world.

“We are extremely proud of the cross-geo and cross-functional professionals we’ve been able to bring together for this extremely important topic. Through this work group, we are looking forward to collaboratively driving a critical transformation in the payments industry.”