Both elements are steps forward in the game to help people connect and get better access. The one fine line that Boingo has avoided though is certifying those crowdsourced hotspots. When I think about credit card skimmers at ATM machines, I think how easy it is to insert a watcher type progam inside a WiFi access point that's not part of a managed operation like Boingo's or AT&T's network where one would expect the company sweeps them regularly for trojans, malware, spyware and other bad things that can harm both the network and their users. With the crowdsourced access points, the risk, IMHO, is greater, which in turn spurs the need for a VPN.
I've neen a user of HotSpotVPN for years and also used some others on various devices. The issue surrounding WiFi and the ability to latch on to users data in the air, as well as the ability to put up rogue access points will only proliferate, just as skimmers have whereever ATMs, and credit card readers are found. With mobile money on the rise, and Wi-Fi hotspots growing in use so people can connect risks mount.
Banks, like email operators, likely will get blacklists of suspected hotspots, just like the spam-cop lists of old that made many a yahoo.com email address a suspected spammer, and even hosted domains at Yahoo of customers. Banks and other financial agencies already use various threat detection tools, some that work, but often slow down legitimate transactions versus stopping the phoney ones. This issue will magnify as IP address lookup is one of them so with Wi-Fi and it's ability to enable Ad-Hoc networks, and the lack of a trusted system all spells potential trouble, which is why the mobile operators are pushing SIM cards to their limit. But the SIM doesn't verify the integrity of the hotspot, so with the VPN, Boingo is taking a page out of T-Mobile's book, as TMO when they had a large number of hotspots in the USA deployed also went the VPN route.
In my mind this is the right step, but not the ultimate answer as WiFi has already proven to be even easier to tap than a phone line....so what Boingo and their operator partners do next is really what matters.