Innovating at the Network Edge: A Conversation with AT&T Business VP Rupesh Chokshi

One of the more interesting conversations I enjoyed at FinovateSpring this year was a chat with Rupesh Chokshi, VP of Product Strategy and Innovation with AT&T Business. Often not a part of the general conversation on fintech innovation, communications companies like AT&T play a major role in providing both the infrastructure and technology that makes much of fintech innovation in 2022 possible. Chokshi discusses this – and more – in our conversation from FinovateSpring in San Francisco earlier this year.

On the relationship between fintech innovation and the revolution in connectivity

There is a trend right now in wireless connectivity, ubiquitous connectivity. And if you look at a lot of the innovation that’s happening in fintech, it’s associated with the user experiences. Whether it is an interaction on a mobile commerce kind of platform or some interaction with a call center that’s utilizing conversational AI or other technologies, connectivity plays a very important role and having ubiquitous connectivity that is high scale and on-demand is important.

A lot of the smaller, younger fintechs are banking on this infrastructure, this capability, this networking trend to be there to really differentiate the end user experience and the end game for their products and services.

On the challenges financial services companies are facing right now

I think there is still a lot of siloed, legacy infrastructure. There are still a lot of companies that are dealing with the question of how do you take what you have on to a new platform or to have some of that journey in the cloud or the multi-cloud. They are also understanding the kind of modernization of the app structures and modernization of the networking capabilities that you need. I feel there is an opportunity to do a little bit of a catapult or a breakthrough because (companies) have figured and mulled over all of these things for such a long time.

On what AT&T Business is doing to help fintechs and financial services continue to innovate

We’ve all talked about the digital acceleration that took place. Ten years of innovation happened in two years. We’re grappling with this whole hybrid work environment … In order to make all that a reality, the way we’re thinking about it, is that the investments we are making in our fiber footprint, in our 5G capabilities, are going to provide that baseline connectivity. And from there we’re thinking about enablers. We’re making our networks more programmable and open to those APIs that can be consumed by the application layer to make the end user experience very much differentiated.

So if I think about it, it’s a layered cake. For us, it’s the core connectivity, the infrastructure, put the enablers at the top of it, and then go into some deeper partnerships into the ecosystem, startups, large tech, hyperscalers, integrators … And then going to the true end customers and the verticals we support.

Listen to the rest of our conversation at FinovateTV.

Photo by Abhiram Prakash