According to the Pulse of Fintech H2’21 – a bi-annual report published by KPMG highlighting global fintech investment trends – total global fintech funding across M&A, PE and VC reached US$210 billion across a record 5,684 deals in 2021. Fintech funding in H2’21 accounted for US$101 billion of this total – down slightly next to H1’21’s US$109 billion.

“2021 has been an incredibly strong year for the fintech market globally, with the number of deals soaring to record highs across the board,” said Anton Ruddenklau, Global Fintech Leader, KPMG International. “We’re seeing an incredible amount of interest in all manner of fintech companies, with record funding in areas like blockchain and crypto, cybersecurity, and wealthtech. While payments remain a significant driver of fintech activity, the sector is broadening every day.”

Payments continued to attract the most funding among fintech subsectors, accounting for US$51.7 billion in investment globally in 2021 – up from $29.1 billion in 2020. A continued surge in interest in areas like ‘buy now, pay later’, embedded banking, and open banking aligned solutions has helped keep the payments space very robust. Blockchain and crypto was also a very hot sector, attracting a record US$30.2 billion in investment – up from US$5.5 billion in 2020 and more than three times the previous record of US$8.2 billion seen in 2018. Cybersecurity (US$4.85 billion) and Wealthtech (US$1.62 billion) also saw record-levels of investment.

Manav Prakash, Advisory Partner at KPMG in Bahrain, added “We are seeing increased momentum in the Fintech space in Bahrain with leading Fintech players evaluating Bahrain as their regional hub and scouting for partnerships in the local market with traditional players. Payments, specifically is an area where we see a lot of emerging interest and use cases. Our view is that we are going to see a lot more innovative players establishing their presence in Bahrain in the short term and some game changing partnerships emerging.”

2021 Key Highlights

  • Global fintech investment was US$210 billion across a record 5,684 deals in 2021 – up from US$125 billion across 3,674 deals in 2020.
  • Payments remained the hottest area of fintech investment in 2021, with US$51.7 billion in investment globally.
  • Record levels of investment were seen in blockchain and crypto (US$30.2 billion), cybersecurity (US$4.85 billion) and wealthtech (US$1.62 billion) in 2021.
  • Other fintech areas also saw robust funding in 2021, including insurtech (US$14.4 billion), regtech (US$9.9 billion).
  • Cross-border fintech M&A deal value more than tripled year-over-year – to $36.2 billion. Total fintech-focused M&A deal value rose from US$76 billion in 2020 to US$83.1 billion in 2021.
  • PE funding to fintechs more than doubled from its previous high – with US$12.2 billion in investment in 2021 compared to a peak of US$5.2 billion in 2018.
  • VC investment in fintech globally more than doubled year-over-year – from US$46 billion in 2020 to a record US$115 billion investment in 2021. Median VC deal sizes grew significantly for all deal stages between 2020 and 2021, including Angel and Seed US$1.4 million to US$2.2 million), Early Stage (US$4.6 million to US$7 million), and Late Stage (US$12.7 million to US$24.6 million).
  • Total fintech investment in the Americas reached US$105 billion in 2021, including a record US$64.5 billion in VC funding. The US accounted for US$88 billion of total funding and US$52.7 billion in VC funding. EMEA saw US$77 billion in fintech investment in 2021, including a record US$31.1 billion in VC funding. Fintech investment in the Asia-Pacific region almost doubled – from US$14.7 billion in 2020 to US$27.5 billion in 2021.
  • Corporate VC investment in fintech was incredibly robust in 2021 at US$50 billion, with both the Americas (US$29.7 billion) and EMEA (US$11.3 billion) seeing record levels of investment.

Crypto and blockchain space sees biggest surge in 2021 - with US$30 billion in investment

Global investment in the crypto and blockchain space rose dramatically from US$5.4 billion in 2020 to a record high of US$30 billion in 2021, while the number of deals rose from 627 to 1,332 over the same period. The sector also saw numerous large deals, including the US$1 billion raise by Bahamas-based FTX, a US$767 million raise by US-based NYDIG, and a US$750 million raise by Celsius Network. The surging investment and deal activity reflects growing recognition for the potential role of crypto and its underlying technologies in modern financial systems.

Both cybersecurity and wealthtech also reached record high levels of investment in 2021, with US$4.85 billion and US$1.62 billion respectively.

Cross-border M&A sees strong rebound with US$32.2 billion in deal value

After falling to a seven-year low of US$10.7 billion in 2020, cross-border fintech M&A deal value more than tripled year-over-year to US$36.2 billion in 2021. The number of cross-border M&A deals also reached a record high of 275 deals during the year. Both H1’21 and H2’21 saw robust activity. During H1’21, the London Stock Exchange acquired US-based Refinitiv for US$14.8 billion and US-based Nasdaq acquiring Canada-based Verafin for US$2.7 billion, while in H2’21, Italy-based Nexi acquired Denmark-based Nets for US$9.2 billion and PayPal acquired Japan-based Paidy for US$2.7 billion.

More growth on the horizon, including significant M&A

Heading into 2022, fintech investment is expected to remain very robust, with activity growing in less developed fintech markets, including Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. M&A activity is also expected to rise, with deal values growing as both corporates and fintechs look to grow and build scale.  There is also expected to be growing interest in fintech-focused ESG solutions and banking replacements able to address the need for modernization of core banking platforms. There will also be an increasing number of fintechs looking brand themselves as data companies rather than simply fintechs.

“Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are expected to remain very hot areas of investment in 2022, with more crypto firms looking to regulators to provide clear guidance on activities in order to help foster and develop the space,” said Anton Ruddenklau, Global Fintech Leader, KPMG International. “Given how many banks are beginning to see the major limitations inherent in their legacy architecture and technologies, there will likely also be a surge in investment into banking replacements able to help them rethink core banking services.”