Venture capital-funded financial technology firms raised a record $39.57 billion in 2018 from investors worldwide, marking a 120% increase from the year before, Reuters reports. 

According to research published on Tuesday by data provider CB Insights, funding was accumulated through 1,707 deals, a significant rise from the 1480 recorded in 2017. 

The spike in funding is largely attributed to 52 mega-rounds – investments larger than $100 million – amounting to $24.88 billion in total, the research added. 

The study also revealed that a $14 billion investment in Ant Financial, the payment subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., accounted for 35% of all fintech funding in 2018.

During the last quarter of the year, five companies, including credit card provider Brex, digital bank Monzo and data aggregator Plaid, were added to the group of firms valued at over $1 billion, also known as the fintech “unicorns.” 

Venture capital investors have been transferring billions of dollars into fintech firms, in an effort to acquire market share from financial institutions by providing digital financial services which are more affordable and simpler to get accustomed to. 

The popularity of fintech companies has spread globally across different areas of finance, including lending, banking and wealth management. 

Although large rounds led to funding hitting a record high in 2018, and several new “unicorn” firms being issued, CB Insights predicts that initial public offerings (IPOs) will most likely be postponed. 

“IPO activity is likely to remain lackluster in 2019,” the research said. 

The biggest hike in the amount of deals made in 2018 was seen in Asia, increasing by 28% from the same period a year prior, and accounting for a record $22.65 billion, the research revealed. 

Although the number of deals fell in Europe, funding hit a new record of $3.5 billion. Elsewhere in the United States, fintech companies raised a record $11.89 billion via 659 investments.