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One thing that quickly became apparent after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fleeting collapse in financial markets is that big U.S. banks, the villains of the previous crisis, were determined to be the good guys this time around. No job cuts in 2020. Deferred payments on credit cards and mortgages without repercussions. You name it, the likes of Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. appeared willing to provide it.

It would be naive to expect this kind of treatment to last forever — banking is a highly competitive businesses, after all. However, a combination of shifting behavior because of the pandemic and industry trends that have only accelerated over the past year might leave top commercial banks with little choice but to remain consumer friendly or else risk losing market share to financial technology companies.

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