Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, addressed the issue of consumers' lack of choice in a speech last month.

In the Feb. 20 speech, Cordray highlighted that U.S. consumers do not get to choose the company that services their mortgage, the firm that collects owed debts or the company that collects information about their credit history.

"Without consumer choice, a key element of market discipline is lacking," Cordray said. "The result is to permit or even facilitate a distinct indifference to the interests of individual consumers."

"No one is sure yet where this line of thought will take the CFPB. But the agency's supporters and detractors alike say the speech is an important, potentially nettlesome development for the banking industry - because it suggests that the bureau will give additional scrutiny to business relationships that tie consumers to specific companies," writes American Banker's Kevin Wack.

It is not clear what the bureau's emphasis on consumer choice will mean for banks. Financial institutions already regulate the companies that provide services to them.

Under the Dodd-Frank reform law, the CFPB has the legal authority to supervise directly at least some of the third-party companies that banks do business with.

For the full piece see "CFPB Focuses on Consumer Choice - or Lack Thereof" (may require subscription).