New fintech applications (Image: Shutterstock).

At this point, predicting the downfall of big banks is practically a cliché. Their demise has been forecasted for years, but it wasn’t until the 2008 financial crisis when cracks really started to appear in their foundation. Fintechs were around, but their use was still somewhat of a novelty and didn’t appear to be a match for the established giants. Fast forward to the present, when the leading brands may give financial CEOs a few sleepless nights.

Dozens of the biggest players are set to reach a $1 billion valuation this year, according to TheStreet – a feat that would have seemed impossible a generation ago. Looking at some of the top companies, it’s easy to see how their value skyrocketed so rapidly. The Collison brothers formed Stripe to help small online retailers with payments, Avant gives average folks loans and Gusto provides HR for under-100 employers. In short, the billionaires made their bucks serving those that large banks can inadvertently miss. In this way, they’re not unlike credit unions, whose people-first philosophy is akin to the emerging tech giants.

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