MADISON, Wis. (1/18/11)--If 2010 will be remembered as the year mobile banking began to go mainstream, 2011 may well be known as the sequel. Credit union technology experts say that mobile banking development will continue to gain acceptance, as smart phone technology becomes more closely integrated into consumers’ everyday lives. And that will have implications for credit unions. This is part 1 of a two-part series on hot technologies for credit unions in 2011. Part 1 focuses exclusively on mobile, which experts agree is the most popular vehicle for delivering information, regardless of the industry. “The smart phone is proliferating,” Rudy Pereira, senior vice president of operations and technology at Alliant CU, Chicago, and chair of the CUNA Technology Council Executive Committee, told News Now. “It’s become preferential.” The key driver of mobile adoption is applications, or apps, as they are better known, small software programs that consumers can download for their iPhones, Androids, or iPads, that perform specific functions to make life easier or more entertaining. In the financial services world, that might include account access, ATM locators, remote deposit or just about any function that can be performed through online banking. “It’s a maturing paradigm,” said Steve Williams, principal of the consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., and one of the authors of the online newsletter Gonzobanker.com. “It’s not about trying to make the browser work on the phone as much as its focusing on getting the app environment to do anything to serve the member’s needs.” Jim Bruene, the author and publisher of the Online Banking Report and the blog Netbanker, said that at the end of 2009, there were about three dozen mobile applications available from financial institutions. At the end of 2010, that number had increased to about 1,000. “Now virtually every consumer has a financial application they can choose from,” Bruene said. “That will continue to drive adoption.” As the mobile market matures, Williams believes, financial institutions will move toward more hefty mobile applications such as bill payment and loan applications. “I think financial institutions are going to compete on that experience, from bill payment to account opening,” Williams said. “We’re really just getting started on it.” With those capabilities, 2011 will probably be the year credit unions begin to think of mobile as a true part of their retail delivery strategy, Pereira said. “Those that are going to have success are going approach it not as a subset in their delivery strategy but as a completely different channel,” he added Even those credit unions that thought they were ahead of the game in deploying mobile may have to play catch-up to keep up with the fast-changing market. “Those that deployed mobile two years ago are probably going to have to go back and rethink it,” Pereira said. “The market has just started to take off, and that is only going to continue.” Part II will appear later this week.