By Aluisio Alves and Carolina Mandl
SAO PAULO, April 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-owned lender Banco do Brasil will seek an expansion of its credit card portfolio by issuing cards to non-clients, a top executive told Reuters on Thursday.
Executive Vice-President Marcelo Labuto said Brazil's largest bank by assets is finishing the development of default-control systems to start offering credit cards with its brand Ourocard to non-clients by the second half of 2018.
Labuto said Banco do Brasil's move aims at closing the gap with private banks in credit cards and also compete with novice credit card issuers such as Nubank amid a rapid growth of card transactions in Brazil.
Banco do Brasil had a credit card base of 17,3 million at the end of December. Although Banco do Brasil is the largest listed lender in the country, rival Itaú Unibanco Holding SA had 29,2 million credit card holders.
Last year, credit card transactions amounted to 842.6 billion, up 12.4 percent from 2016, according to card industry group ABECS.
Regarding defaults in loans to consumers, Labuto said that indicators "behaved well" during the first quarter. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Sandra Maler)