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It may not be much longer before bank branches join video-rental stores and record shops as relics of a bygone era.Silicon Valley is pressuring banks to change their ways or risk becoming the latest industry overtaken by technology.Given how much customers dislike it, the financial services industry seems ripe for "disruption," as Silicon Valley likes to call industry upheaval. These financial technology, or "fintech," startups may also soon get further validation from a key banking regulator.At this point, the fintech sector hasn't proven it can be a viable or trustworthy alternative to traditional banks and stock brokerages.With the help of taxpayer-backed bailouts, the industry has survived a financial crisis of its own making, and now appears to be tackling the fintech threat.A recent survey of the financial services industry by the research firm Gartner Inc. found that 70 percent of respondents considered fintech startups to be a bigger threat than their traditional rivals.Affirm also refuses to charge fees for late payments, to further distinguish itself from banks and other credit card issuers.Like the big traditional banks, most digital-only banks also offer government-backed insurance on deposits, but Berdak says that is not enough to overcome lingering doubts about their long-term prospects.
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