Brick-and-mortar banks are in desperate need of a makeover. They know it too. Capital One is opening Capital One Cafes in major cities across the U.S., with hip decor and more laidback consulting vibes than traditional branches. JPMorgan is trying the same idea with its Manhattan technology hub. Bloomberg reported the bank’s $9.6 billion technology budget coincided with new startup-style offices featuring foosball tables, open workspaces and snacks. But it might be too little, too late.

Banks aren’t changing things up just because they want street cred. They see the writing on the wall. Startups like PayPal and SoFi have become some of the nation’s largest online lenders, offering all kinds of personalized and flexible financial services, from small business loans to mortgages.

While, money transfer apps like Apple Pay, Venmo and WorldRemit garner widespread adoption, some experts predict banks could also lose well over half their retail profits to fintech startups. Flashy offices won’t change the fact that the days of traditional banking are over.

Read: Here's How Fintech Is Shaking Up The Mortgage Market

“They still think it’s about improving their website, improving their UX, but basically still selling the same products,” Nubank CEO David Vélez told International Business Times. “They need to rethink their culture.” Nubank is a mobile Brazilian credit card company, partnered with Goldman Sachs, with more than  13 million credit card applications and 500,000 people on their waiting list.

Nubank looks beyond traditional credit scores, using cellphone data and driver’s license information to find creditworthy customers who would never meet the requirements of a traditional bank. Like SoFi mortgages in the U.S., Nubank interest rates are flexible and can change as the customer’s financial security increases. Combine that with a lack of fees plus a smooth mobile experience, and traditional credit cards seem very outdated by comparison. 

credit-cards-580x414 Magnetic-stripe credit cards aren't accepted as often abroad. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

American banks may be making more money than ever these days. However, young people hate them and banks’ revenue streams are anchored to the past. According to a Gallup poll, the amount of Americans who feel confident in U.S. banks dropped from 49 percent in 2006 to just 27 percent by 2016. Time magazine reported the rapid decline in consumer trust applies to most legacy institutions. People don’t trust traditional advisors either, although millennials are far more inclined to trust fintech startups.

It’s a brave new world of fintech. Companies that don’t innovate will get left in the dust. So many major American banks are working with consulting firms like KPMG to revitalize their businesses. “There’s a bit of an arms race,” KPMG partner Murray Raisbeck told IBT. “Will one of the tech firms do that [fintech] better anyway?” He said customers now expect financial services to have the same user experience as online retailers like Amazon.  

Speaking of retail, it’s not just individual customers disenchanted with old school banking options. Enterprise clients want more control over online payment processing too. A nationwide survey of 500 chief financial officers by WEX Virtual Payments found 55 percent consider mobile payment options very important, in addition to 54 percent who say to same of blockchain solutions. Not even businessmen like banks’ old stuffy, rigid protocols. So what’s a bank to do?  

Read: Barclays' Techstars Is Quietly Building A Fintech Empire

Raisbeck said many of the head honchos get the dire need for restructuring. Go to any finance conference today, and you’ll hear executives compulsively spouting buzzwords like “innovation" and "disruption." When it comes to the infrastructure of a colossal and heavily regulated corporation, what does innovation really mean?  

“Everyone always talks about cultural change,” Raisbeck said. “The cultural barrier comes in the middle-manager area.” Employees in regular old branches are still preoccupied with the same responsibilities and challenges they’ve always had, because those benchmarks are what they are judged by. Although corporations like Wells Fargo now have well-funded innovation teams, it takes a long time for new ideas to trickle down, much less to replace old ones in day-to-day practice.

Some banks have partnered with tech companies to update internal infrastructure while exploring new product and service options. Banks like Barclays partner with tech giants like Techstars to spot promising startup talent. So far, fintech partnerships seems to work pretty well. It remains to be seen if traditional banks can use those deals to surf the wave of technological change. Will it be enough?

Carey Kolaja, global head of product at Citi Fintech, took the stage at the Future of Fintech conference in New York this week to describe how her 18-month-old fintech team has actually launched new products, tools and services themselves.

“We release now every day or every month,” she said. “It’s easier to change the technology stack than to change the culture. … We had people who said we can’t do it. But they’re saying that because it’s an old policy or it was their opinion. Not that it was actually law,” Kolaja said.  

When Kolaja came to Citigroup from PayPal, she shook up the bank’s hierarchical workflow to drive change. She said, much like revamped Capital One branches, Citi’s new developer hub was modeled after startup offices like Stripes and Google.

Beside her, fellow panelists Sherrie Littlejohn, EVP of Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group, emphasized the importance of viewing customers with a fresh, holistic approach instead of just as a mortgage borrower or a checking account user. The future ecosystem will need to be more open and collaborative, not businesses built on siloed data.

“The consumer should have access to their data anywhere they want it,” Nick Thomas of the fintech company Finicity, which just recently signed a data exchange deal with Wells Fargo, told IBT. “There’s a move towards standardization of that connection.”

Thomas said Wells Fargo is embracing the “ open financial web.” Instead of banks exclusively owning the customer’s financial records, the industry is shifting towards more individual identities that can transact on diverse networks.

“We’re seeing the market going towards banks and fintechs partnering together,” Thomas said. There are no clear rivalries in the fintech arms race. The tech industry has blurred the lines between sectors.

wells fargo A man walks by a bank machine at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, Colorado, April 13, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/RICK WILKING

Littlejohn told the conference crowd on Wednesday that she considered Amazon a potential gamechanger, even though that online retailer doesn’t generally offer financial services yet. Both Littlejohn and Kolaja agreed the future of banking will require different personality strengths from its leaders, including flexibility and cooperation. Even beyond household names like PayPal, a crop of young global startups have already shown how personalized services can help lenders tap into underserved markets.

53 million Americans aren’t served by the current credit score market,  but have great cash flow,” Thomas told IBT. Nubank in Brazil and the fintech startup Tala, which has distributed around 2 million micro-loans in places like in Kenya and Tanzania, prove there’s no need to restrict loan eligibility to traditional metrics.

Tala uses mobile data, like who prospective borrowers call and what their habits are according to GPS tracking, to assess risk for people with no credit history. The company claims Tala is now one of the most popular apps in all of Kenya and that their loans have a 92 percent repayment rate, which is pretty consistent with legacy lenders.

“The only way for them [banks] to reach this segment is for them to change how they do their credit scoring and how they reach their customers,” Tala CEO Shivani Siroya told IBT. “Right now, they are still focused on brick-and-mortar bank branches. The paper application, or otherwise just thinking about online applications. But we know customers have mobile phones in their hands. We need to rethink that entire funnel.”   

To stay competitive and truly take a holistic approach, banks need to engage more with customers’ digital lives instead of waiting for customers to come to them. “I haven’t necessarily seen it from the large players, like Barclays and Citigroup,” she said. “If we can understand someone’s behavior on their phone, we can learn so much about their daily life. And that creates this whole new way of thinking about their identity.”

Powerhouse startups like SoFi are known for prioritizing the customer relationship and crafting their brands as a resource, not just a service provider. That approach is just one of the ways for tech-savvy companies to overcome finance’s reputation problem.

“That’s the thing that banks have not grasped,” Siroya said. “If you can build that relationship from the beginning with your customers, regardless of what country they are in or what city they are in, nowadays everyone is moving. And so if we can find ways to hang on to that relationship across markets, that’s what is going to win.”