Investment in financial tech firms in the UK grew sevenfold last year to $37.3bn (£27.5bn), according to KPMG, with London attracting more fintech funding than the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) put together.
The investment total was boosted by 601 deals that were finalised in the UK in 2021, the financial services firm said, up from 470 the year before.
London’s fintech boom was strengthened by the size of many of the deals, which included the $14.8bn Refinitiv deal completed in January 2021. Five out of the 10 largest fintech deals in the EMEA region were completed in the UK, it said.
The report shows that while the UK sector is growing fast, it still only accounts for a fraction of the overall fintech sector. KPMG said that the total global fintech funding across the various sectors was worth $210bn – across a record 5,684 deals – in 2021.
Payments continued to attract the most funding, accounting for $51.7bn in investment globally in 2021 – up from $29.1bn in 2020 – thanks to a continued surge in interest in areas such as “buy now, pay later”.
Last month, the Telegraph reported that Downing Street had launched an audacious bid to lure the $45bn (£34bn) payments firm Klarna to the London Stock Exchange amid fears that high-growth companies were snubbing London for New York.
Anton Ruddenklau, global fintech leader, KPMG International, said: “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.”
In separate research also published on Monday, it emerged that the number of private equity-backed acquisitions of UK professional services firms went up 179% last year.
Global law firm Mayer Brown found there were 53 such deals and said private equity (PE) funds had become increasingly interested in the sector as many professional services firms had improved their business models to create more stable income from retainer and other consultancy work.
Major deals over the last few years have included spin outs of insolvency and consultancy arms of the Big Four accountancy firms. Of the 53 transactions in the past year by private equity funds, 28% were for communications firms.
“Consultancy firms that have reliable streams of recurring revenue are very appealing targets for PE houses. PE funds are finding that recurring revenues don’t just exist in traditional areas of professional services like accountancy, tax and legal, but also in newer sub-sectors like PR or digital consultancy,” said Perry Yam, a Mayer Brown partner.