The payments industry saw merger-and-acquisition volume decrease 21 percent in 2015, after rising 46% in 2014.

The industry historically has had many "license-and-maintenance" legacy business models, which are good for business but not always the most attractive to buyers, according to the annual Berkery Noyes mergers and acquisitions white paper on the financial technology industry.

In today's market, companies prefer subscription-based business models, the report said. As more seek electronic bill payment and online payments to eliminate paper bills, the payments sector may see more mergers in that particular area in the future.

For 2015, the payments sector had 108 mergers or acquisitions, compared to 137 in 2014 and 94 in 2013. Berkery estimates the value of the 2015 business deals in payments at $20.76 billion, up from $15.91 billion in 2014.

Global Payments' $4.31 billion acquisition of processor and technology provider Heartland Payment Systems represented the payments segment's highest value transaction.

In other key moves, PayPal acquired Xoom Corporation, a digital money transfer provider, for $788 million, and also bought Paydiant, a cloud-based payment processor and mobile wallet technology provider, for $280 million.

The largest deal in the mobile subsector of the payments industry was Snapdeal's $379 million acquisition of Freecharge, a mobile commerce platform that gives users coupons for adding money to prepaid mobile plans and paying bills online.

The overall M&A market landscape, including payments, capital markets, banking and insurance, saw transaction volume increase 14% over the past year. The aggregate value of those transactions more than doubled from $27.81 billion in 2014 to $63.78 billion last year, Berkery Noyes said.

The independent investment bank cited FIS' acquisition of financial software company SunGard Data Systems for $9.1 billion last year as the financial technology industry's largest deal since Intercontinental Exchange acquired NYSE Euronext for $10.8 billion in 2012.

The largest banking transaction last year was Diebold's announced $1.8 billion acquisition of Wincor Nixdorf, a provider of IT solutions and services for banks and the retail sector.;

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