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Funding for independent robo advisors is likely to accelerate and branch into new areas, like artificial intelligence and blockchain, according to a new study on fintech M&As by the accounting firm KPMG.

The largest independent digital advice platforms have profited sizably from a strong M&A market — including Wealthfront that secured $75 million in January and Betterment that attracted $70 million last July.

Firms like Personal Capital that secured $40 million in August have even reinvested in their advisor base, hiring in multiple cities across the U.S.

In fact, M&A activity for all fintech sectors totaled $8.7 billion over 154 deals in 2017, according to KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech study. Backed by a strong economy and substantial increases in private equity, U.S. investments accounted for almost half of all global funding at $15.2 billion for the year, according to the study. Investments topped $5.8 billion in the fourth quarter alone.

“We are seeing the more mature fintechs, the ones that have achieved a certain scale, now looking to branch out into new service areas and to complement their core offerings through inorganic growth,” says Anthony Rjeily, digital and fintech practice leader for KPMG. “They are starting to invest in and acquire small fintechs themselves. This is a new dynamic in the fintech funding space, but one we will continue to see moving forward.”

The new investments were bolstered by influxes of private equity in the U.S. that skyrocketed in the fourth quarter with $3.4 billion in deal activity — the second highest quarter of PE investment in fintech on record, according to the study.

“Both traditional corporates and some of the more well-developed fintech companies in the U.S. see strategic acquisitions as a ready means to make leaps in innovation, bridge operational or service gaps, or expand,” says Brian Hughes, national co-lead partner at KPMG. “For traditional financial institutions, a buy approach also ensures they have feet on the ground with respect to innovation and better access to knowledge as to how the fintech ecosystem will continue to evolve.”

As the independent robo advisor space matures, digital platforms are likely to continue to attract funding, the study suggests. Click through our slideshow to learn more.