How can quantum computing help my business?

European fintech firm Satispay is the latest in a growing list of companies using quantum computing to improve their business prospects.
26 October 2023

Ready for use today: quantum computers can solve business-relevant optimization problems as fintech and other firms are discovering.

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Fintech firms rely on clever software and mobile apps to jump ahead of conventional financial players such as older banks and payment providers. Such high-tech thinking in finance extends to the use of quantum computing as a way of maximizing business profits, helping fintech firms and other progressive companies extend their advantage.

A recent example of how quantum computing can help business can be seen in the use of commercially relevant solvers by Satispay, a European fintech based in Italy. Wanting to accelerate the adoption and usage of its novel payments network, Satispay built a proof-of-concept using D-Wave’s quantum annealing technology, which is ideal for tackling optimization problems.

“Together with D-Wave, we’ve built a quantum-hybrid application that has demonstrated immediate business value at scale, helping us more effectively manage our rewards program to save money, improve rewards appreciation, and drive increased membership,” Dario Brignone, founder and CTO of Satispay told investors.

To understand why Brignone looked to quantum computing for answers, rather than use classical machines, it’s helpful to consider how the Milan-headquartered fintech – which operates in Italy, France, Germany, and Luxemburg – grows its market footprint.

What is Satispay?

Italy, the home of Satispay, is fuelled by espresso. But until Brignone and his fintech colleagues put their heads together, it was unheard of to pay for the nation’s favorite serving of coffee by card. The hold-up was payment processing fees, which meant that coffee shops would rarely accept anything, but cash, for food and drink bills of less than 10 Euros.

Recognizing a fintech opportunity, Satispay created its own network that eliminated all of the intermediaries that are traditionally involved in e-payments, which – as a result – was more efficient and cheaper. Bricks-and-mortar stores can accept transactions up to 10 Euros without any charges, while transactions above that value attract a fixed fee of just 20 cents.

Quantum computing helps Satispay’s business by puzzling out the best combination of rewards, which are designed to attract new customers and keep existing users engaged with the app. When fintech users open Satispay, they see a list of merchants near them with their current location at the top of the list –for example, if they are already inside a physical store or coffee shop.

Considering the example of a user buying a coffee, they simply ‘push’ the amount digitally to the store owner, who can view the transaction on their own app, or even using a regular point-of-sale terminal. Incentives for customers include cashbacks, such as receiving 20% cashback on all purchases in a given store. But there are also variations, including having the reward for a first purchase only, and incremental cashbacks that become more attractive as customers return and shop again.

“The challenge for Satispay was how to best match those offers with those who wanted to take up on them,” Murry Thom – VP of Quantum Business Innovation at D-Wave told TechHQ. “And the key step when running the optimization is to focus on what you are trying to optimize.”

In the case of Satispay, the fintech payments firm wanted the largest growth in its customer network for a fixed budget. However, given that multiple factors are all tied to the same budget, it’s a problem that can get complicated even at a modest scale when modeled using a classical computer.

The good news for Satispay, highlighting how quantum computing can help business operators, is that the solver built by the team showed an improvement of 50% in customer rewards programs for the same budget. And this gets straight to the ‘immediate business value’ that Brignone mentioned in his statement.

Quantum computing can help firms achieve a range of business objectives. Staying in the world of finance, another popular application for using physics to solve complex problems that would be too time-consuming for classical computers, is managing financial risk.

Quantum algorithms have been applied in the area of portfolio management – for example, to help asset holders determine how much capital to hold for worst-case scenarios.

How to program a quantum computer?

When we use our laptops and smartphones, it’s unlikely that many of us are racking our brains trying to picture electrons flowing through transistors. However, quantum bits (qubits) have proven to be a captivating topic – for example, thanks to concepts such as superposition and entanglement that begin to describe how computation takes place.

That being said, users wanting to discover how quantum computing can help their business don’t need to puzzle over why qubits can be both zero and one and get to grips with a Hamiltonian or Eigenspectrum. Quantum computing vendors such as D-Wave and others have numerous tutorials available that answer common questions on how to program a quantum computer.

Also, for popular tasks such as solving optimization problems, there’s a good chance that there’s already a model that users can build upon rather than having to start from scratch. Satispay plans to put its application into production and expects its internal teams to be using the quantum computing tool on a weekly basis.