Paper 2021/967

Assessment of Quantum Threat To Bitcoin and Derived Cryptocurrencies

Stephen Holmes and Liqun Chen


All cryptocurrencies are not the same. Today, they share a common quantum vulnerability through use of non-quantum safe Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) digital signatures yet they have very different risks of quantum attack. The risk of attack for a cryptocurrency depends on a number of identified factors such as the block interval time, the vulnerability to an attack that delays the time for an unprocessed transaction to be completed and the behaviour of a cryptocurrency user to increase the cost of a quantum computer attack. Shor’s algorithm can be used to break ECDSA signatures with a quantum computer. This research addresses the two questions: When will a quantum computer be powerful enough to execute Shor's algorithm? How fast would a quantum computer need to be to break a specific cryptocurrency? In this paper we observe that by benchmarking the speed of circuits and the time for quantum addition on quantum computers we can determine when there is a potential threat to a specific cryptocurrency.

Note: This is a pre-print of the paper that will be presented at ICDCPS002 2021: 15. International Conference on Digital Currencies and Payment Systems August 09-10, 2021 in New York, United States

Available format(s)
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
digital signaturesquantum computingcryptocurrencybitcoinaltcoinECDSA
Contact author(s)
s a holmes @ surrey ac uk
2021-07-22: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Stephen Holmes and Liqun Chen},
      title = {Assessment of Quantum Threat To Bitcoin and Derived Cryptocurrencies},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/967},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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