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Fintech investment surged globally in 2018, and the sector is poised for further growth this year, says a new report from KPMG International.

Investment in fintechs more than doubled from $50.8 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars) in 2017 to $111.8 billion in 2018, across almost 2,200 deals, the firm reports. For Canada, a record 119 deals last year generated $1.2 billion worth of investment, it notes.

On a global basis, the number of deals only increased slightly from the previous year, led by the Americas region; the number of deals in Asia and Europe declined a bit year over year.

Last year’s surge came, in part, thanks to three mega deals that were in excess of $10 billion each, KPMG notes. Merger and buyout activity accounted for some of the biggest fintech transactions, but the firm also reports that corporate venture capital investment more than doubled from $10.3 billion in 2017 to $23 billion in 2018.

In terms of the fintech areas that are attracting investment, KPMG says that the payments and lending spaces continue to lead the way globally, but that insurtech and regtech are “also quite high on the radar of investors.”

In Canada, KPMG notes that the big banks continue to focus on the robo advisory space. For instance, it points out that RBC rolled out of its robo platform late in 2018, other banks have formed partnerships with robo-focused fintechs, and that Vanguard Investments Canada is planning its own digital advice platform for retail investors.

“Given Canada’s role as a global leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is expected that there will be increasing investor interest related to AI-driven fintech offerings in the country over time,” the report says. “The Canadian government is also undertaking a number of initiatives that should have a positive impact on fintech investment, including a payments modernization initiative and consideration of a shift to open banking.”

Additionally, changes to federal banking legislation are expected in 2019, which KPMG says “will likely allow Canadian banks to more readily invest in fintech startups.”

“Over the next year, one area to watch in Canada will be how the fintechs are positioning for open banking and for payments modernization. And, once the banks are able to do more investing than they have been, what impact that will have in terms of the investment dollars available to the Canadian fintech community, ” notes John Armstrong, national industry leader, financial services, with KPMG in Canada.

The firm says that the outlook for global fintech investment in 2019 is also robust, “in part due to the strong and highly diverse fintech hubs cropping up around the world, as well as growing recognition from both incumbents and scaled fintech companies that M&A is an important part of their growth strategies.”

Moreover, the firm says that there’s likely to be “an increase in investment focused on solutions targeted to the needs of unbanked and underbanked people in the developing world, including southeast Asia and Africa, even as more developed regions see a growth in fintechs that can reduce operating costs, improve service quality and expand customer reach.”