Record-Breaking VC Investment In Fintech In First Half Of 2021

Overall, global fintech funding across M&A, PE, and VC deals soared to a new high in H1’21, according to KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech, a bi-annual report on fintech investment trends. Dry powder cash reserves, increasing diversification in hubs and subsectors, and strong activity across the world contributed to the record start to 2021, with funding increasing from USD 87.1 billion in H2’20 to USD 98 billion in H1’21.

Fintech valuations remained very high in H1’21 as investors continued to see the space as attractive and well-performing – a likely driver in the explosion of unicorn births with 163 created in the first half of the year. Under pressure to increase the velocity of their digital transformation and to enhance their digital capabilities, corporates were particularly active in venture deals, participating in close to USD 21 billion in investment over nearly 600 deals globally, with many realizing it’s quicker to do so by partnering with, investing in, or acquiring fintechs.

Looking forward to H2’21, total fintech investment is expected to remain very robust in most regions of the world. While the payments space is expected to remain a dominant driver of fintech investment, revenue-based financing solutions, banking-as-a-service models, and B2B services are expected to attract increasing levels of investment. Given the rise in digital transactions, and the subsequent increase in cyberattacks and ransomware, cybersecurity solutions will likely also be high on the radar of investors.

UAE outlook

The digital bank space got some attention in H1’21 with the announcement of the upcoming launch of Zand — the UAE’s first independent digital bank. International interest in the UAE continued to grow, with both Ireland-based regtech company DX Compliance39 and USbased payments firm Stripe40 launching operations in the UAE during H1’21.

During H2’21, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of the ADGM introduced a framework to regulate open banking platforms to enhance consumer data protection. Looking forward, investment in payments and contactless technologies is expected to remain strong in the UAE. Investor interest in Islamic finance focused startups, such as Shariah compliant fintechs, is expected to grow over the next few quarters.

Goncalo Traquina, Partner, KPMG Lower Gulf, said, “Accelerators and events are an important part of building up the fintech ecosystem in the UAE.H1’21 saw some interesting developments in this area. The Ministry of Economy and the Securities and Commodities Authority launched a FintechMegathon to help reimagine financial services in the UAE. UAE technology ecosystem Hub71 and US based ModusCapital also launched Ventures Lab — a program aimed at helping early stage founders build viable products.”

H1’21—Highlights

  • Global fintech investment reached USD 98 billion across 2,456 deals in H1’21 – far outpacing last year’s annual total of USD 121.5 billion across 3,520 deals.
  • M&A deals continued at a very healthy pace, accounting for USD 40.7 billion across 353 deals in H1’21, compared to USD 74 billion across 502 deals during all of 2020.
  • Late-stage venture valuations more than doubled year-over-year, with global median pre-money valuations for late stage deals rising from USD 135 million in 2020 to USD 325 million at the end of H1’21.
  • Corporate participation in VC investment in fintech was incredibly strong in H1’21, with USD 20.8 billion of investment globally. EMEA (USD5 billion) saw record levels of CVC-affiliated investment.
  • Global investment in cybersecurity reached a new annual record at mid-year—rising from USD 2.2 billion in 2020 to over USD 3.7 billion in H1’21.
  • Cross-border M&A deal value rose dramatically, from USD 10.3 billion during all of 2020 to USD 27.7 billion in H1’21 alone.
  • PE firms embraced the fintech space in H1’21, contributing USD 5 billion in investment to fintech— surpassing the previous annual high of USD 4.7 billion seen in 2018.
  • The EMEA region saw USD 39.1 billion in fintech investment in H1’21, including a record USD 15.1 billion in VC funding.
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