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Payments deals pile up in 2021

Payments Dive

More than $50 billion in acquisitions were announced last year by companies in the payments arena. That wasn’t a record, but it still ranked among one of the industry’s busiest years for deal-making.

The payments industry last year racked up more than $50 billion in deals worldwide, making it one of the busiest years ever for deal-making, according to two firms that tracked the acquisition activity.

The merger and acquisition data firm Dealogic logged 173 deals worldwide valued at $53.51 billion. While that’s nowhere near the $140.9 billion transaction value record set in 2019, it runs neck-and-neck for the second-highest dollar level of $53.6 billion set back in 2015, according to Dealogic. It ranked as the third-busiest in terms of the number of transactions, falling short of a record 202 deals last year and 182 in 2019.

The payments industry consulting firm TheStrawhecker Group came in with different figures, tabulating 127 transactions worth $76.6 billion, according to a spokesperson for that firm. That’s a record number of deals by its tally, inching past the 125 deal count last year, though more than the $169.4 billion value record set in 2019.

Either way, the industry had a bonanza year in 2021. Both Dealogic and Strawhecker numbers received their biggest boost from digital payment tool company Square’s August announcement that it would pay $29 billion to acquire the Australian buy now-pay later firm Afterpay. 

Payments companies saved up money in 2020 and plowed it into acquisitions last year, said Zach Spellman, who tracks deals for Strawhecker. “There’s just a lot of build-up cash on hand that has led to many of these acquisitions,” Spellman said in a recent interview.