I often think about those friends and family who were offered the opportunity to invest in baby Amazon or Google, and said no. Of course, I understand the rationale behind it, and not having a crystal ball, they had no idea to know they were glibly foregoing an eleventy billion per cent increase on a small investment (yes, that’s the exact math). But whether you shop there or not, Amazon is a behemoth of unstoppable profit and to have said “no” must feel like the world’s worst decision.

Luckily for you, I do have a crystal ball, and I’m here to tell you right now: investing in a company that produces either quantum computers or tech around quantum computing will be the best, most lucrative investment decision you’ll make this decade – maybe this century.

The rise of the machines

For those not in the know, I’ll keep it simple: rather than using 1s and 0s (bits) quantum computers (QCs) use quantum bits (qubits) as the unit of memory.

From the New Scientist: “Qubits can be inextricably linked together using a phenomenon called quantum entanglement. The result is that a series of qubits can represent different things simultaneously… A few hundred entangled qubits would be enough to represent more numbers than there are atoms in the universe.

This is where quantum computers get their edge over classical ones. In situations where there are a large number of possible combinations, quantum computers can consider them simultaneously. Examples include trying to find the prime factors of a very large number or the best route between two places.”

While QCs really do sound like the stuff of 1980s-and-‘90s-era sci fi films, they’re not only real, they’re set to hit public markets as early as 2025. IBM, Google, the US and Chinese governments are working around the clock to be the first to develop a scalable, commercially viable QC. Forget the arms race – the country that develops the world’s first QC will be top of the pile immediately – mainly because QCs will process so quickly that they’ll be able to decrypt the most complicated current encryption methods almost instantaneously. That’s right, even the most sophisticated encryption methods will be extremely vulnerable. But why protect against a future threat that isn’t here yet?

Smart money

According to most experts, QCs are moving from a scientific, theoretical pursuit into a baby industry that’s set to mature before any of us are ready. China is busy building what could be the two fastest QCs in the world, and plenty of companies are now in IPO or even further public trading phases.

According to the Financial Times’ European tech correspondent, Madhumita Murgia, this is a sector that smart investors will be adding to their portfolios now. She mentions Silicon Valley’s PsiQuantum, currently valued at $3b; Rigetti Computing in Berkely has just entered its $1.5B SPAC and IonQ on America’s east coast, which now trades on the NYSE and has a market cap of $2B.

This, ladies and gents, is the ground floor. This is where you come in and – maybe not for a few years yet, maybe within the next year – see a healthy ROI and wink smugly when people mention they wish they’d seen QCs coming.

Smarter money

But here’s even better investment advice: there are companies on the market now with backgrounds in defence, satellites and cyber security that have calculated the risk QCs may bring once they’re scalable and available to threat actors. As mentioned before, QCs will be able to decrypt almost all current methods at an alarming speed. Many hackers and hacker groups may have already gleaned, stored and are trying to decrypt your data without you knowing it, so it’s important to invest in companies that have a protection figured out.

A fan favourite in the QC protection game is UK-based Arqit Quantum, Inc., currently trading on NASDAQ after going public via SPAC and with a market capitalisation of US$2.7b.The company provides a straightforward, yet ingenuous, encryption technique that offers protection against current threats and against quantum decryption. Arqit also boasts staff and board members from impressive backgrounds such as GCHQ (MI5 and 6), a four-star US general and the father of SSL and co-creator of PKI encryption, Dr. Taher Elgamel.

The bottom line? Whether you invest in the companies creating QCs or those protecting against it, ignoring this technology will prove to be a decision you’ll regret. Now, get investing!