Canada’s fintech sector saw more than 50 deals in the first half of 2018, putting it on pace for the busiest year on record, a report from KPMG says. And a number of regulatory developments could make 2019 an even busier year in the fintech space.

However, the value of deals declined from last year. Canada saw US$263 million invested in fintech deals across venture capital and mergers and acquisitions in the first six months of this year, KPMG’s latest Pulse of Fintech report says. That compares to US$510 million in the second half of 2017.

The spike in the number of deals suggests buyers are trying to get in early on new technology, said John Armstrong, national industry leader for financial services at KPMG in Canada, in a release.

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“Canadian fintech hubs are maturing at a rapid pace and large financial institutions have recognized the need to invest in the space to meet the evolving needs of their customers,” he said.

Artificial intelligence was a dominant focus of Canadian investment, the report said, with banks acquiring AI companies “in part as a talent grab in order to fuel their own innovation activities.” It pointed to TD’s January acquisition of AI predictive analytics firm Layer 6.*

Big banks are also investing in robo-advisor initiatives and blockchain, the report said.

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It also noted potential changes to the Bank Act that could usher in some form of open banking to Canada in 2019. Fintechs and venture capital investors are preparing and “jockeying for position,” the report said.

“In Canada, more clarity around changes to the Bank Act will likely come before the end of the year, which could spark additional investment,” the report said. “Banks in Canada are watching the new developments very carefully as there are currently limitations on what banks can invest in. Should the limitations be lifted, there could be a wave of new corporate investments in 2019 once changes come into force.”

Read the full report here.

*A previous version of this story misnamed the company TD acquired. The correct name is Layer 6. Return to the corrected sentence.