Scientists develop quantum-based payment system that’s virtually unhackable

Researchers from the University of Vienna have developed a groundbreaking system for secure online shopping called “quantum-digital payments.” This innovative method combines quantum properties of light particles with modern cryptographic techniques to provide unconditional security for digital transactions.

In the current digital payment ecosystem, sensitive customer data is protected using classical cryptographic methods. However, powerful adversaries and merchants can crack these codes and gain access to private information, enabling fraudulent activities. To address this issue, the research team led by Prof. Philip Walther utilized the unique properties of single photons to ensure absolute security for digital payments.

In their experiment, the researchers demonstrated that each transaction using their quantum protocol cannot be duplicated or intercepted by malicious parties. The user’s sensitive data remains private throughout the process. Instead of relying on classical cryptographic techniques, the quantum protocol involves the payment provider sending specially prepared single photons to the client, generating a cryptogram.

During the payment procedure, the client measures these photons using settings based on the transaction parameters. As quantum states of light cannot be copied, the transaction can only be executed once. Any deviation from the intended payment alters the measurement outcomes, which are verified by the payment provider, ensuring unconditional security.

The researchers successfully implemented quantum-digital payments over a 641m urban optical fiber link, connecting two buildings in downtown Vienna. Although the current protocol takes a few minutes to complete a transaction due to security measures against noise and losses, the researchers believe that technological advancements will lead to practical performance in the near future.

The development of quantum-digital payments represents a significant step forward in securing online transactions. By harnessing the power of quantum light, this system provides a high level of protection against digital attackers and data breaches, ensuring that sensitive payment data remains secure even in the hands of untrustworthy merchants.

Source: University of Vienna

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