Dr. Leemon Baird, the Founder of Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR) which is a relatively new cryptocurrency that boasts 10,000 transactions per second, has claimed that quantum computing is no threat to cryptocurrency at the Web Summit 2019. 

The debate over quantum computing is popping up due to Google and NASA researchers creating the first computer that has achieved quantum supremacy, meaning it can perform a specific but non-useful task faster than the world’s top supercomputer. Specifically, the quantum computer performed a task in 200 seconds that would take the world’s top supercomputer 10,000 years to perform. 

This has re-ignited fears that one day quantum computers will be strong enough to break through top encryption algorithms, which could theoretically cause all cryptocurrencies to be compromised. 

Dr. Baird compares this situation to Y2K, saying “like Y2K; yes, we had to make some changes to software at Y2K. Was it the end of the world? Actually, no.” Dr. Baird goes on to describe how quantum computers may take over a decade to become powerful enough to crack Bitcoin’s (BTC) cryptography, and at that point Bitcoin (BTC) and all other cryptocurrencies could switch to a new encryption algorithm.

Indeed, as Dr. Baird points out, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is holding a contest to find the best new encryption algorithm, and Dr. Baird thinks that cryptocurrencies could easily switch to that algorithm when quantum computing becomes a real threat.

However, it is debatable as to whether quantum computing is no threat at all. Even Dr. Baird admits quantum computing will one day be strong enough to crack the cryptography of cryptocurrencies, just that they could easily switch algorithms by then. 

It remains to be seen if any classical computing algorithm will be strong enough to withstand quantum computers, since there may come a point where quantum computers are becoming exponentially more powerful. Ultimately, quantum cryptography may be the only long term answer, and that would require everyone to have quantum computers. 

The question then becomes, how long will it take for the public to have quantum computers and therefore access to quantum cryptography, after the first quantum computers are made which can crack top classical encryption algorithms?