WASHINGTON — With financial institutions worried the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will hinder business innovation, the agency on Wednesday argued that one of its mandates is the exact opposite.

The bureau unveiled a new outreach effort related to startup financial companies, called Project Catalyst. The bureau, which will initially collect data on the business practices of three alternative firms, says the new project is meant to satisfy one of its charges from Congress under the Dodd-Frank Act: to encourage financial innovation to benefit consumers.

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