An Introduction to Manual and Secure MICR Printers

Author: Source Technologies

When consumers need a check printed, it can be a serious pain for financial institutions. Tellers must first gather the information from the consumer, step away from where they're providing assistance, and hope the printer will print the check the right way on the first try. 

This can be a time-consuming process, and it can take even longer if the printer doesn't correctly print the check. In these cases, the teller has to start again, frustrating both them and the consumer. Not only that, but it provides opportunities for fraud and makes it harder to track checks going through your system.

As digital transformation rolls forward, the financial industry now has new options available for check printing — options that not only speed up the process but make it secure as well. 

One of these options is a secure MICR printer, which makes it much easier and faster to get checks to consumers. Standing for magnetic ink character recognition, this technology allows machines to scan your checks as they go through, drastically reducing the risk of fraud.

But what is a secure MICR printer, how is it different from manually creating checks, and how does it improve your operation? Keep reading to learn more about this innovative technology.


Manual Printers vs Secure MICR Printers

Though other printing technologies are used in a wide range of operations, including check printing at home, most companies and financial institutions have centered on laser printers for their check printing needs. 


Though manual laser printers are less expensive than other options on the market, it takes a while to set up the check, set up the printer, send the file to the printer, and hopefully get a check for the consumer on the other end that is actually printed clearly and ready to go. 

The check paper has to be pre-printed, which is expensive. And as a live, negotiable document, they must be secured when not in use, adding to the time and cost of printing checks. The entire process can take eight to ten minutes — if it works correctly the first time — leaving the consumer impatiently waiting for their check.

In addition, there are other overhead costs that accrue on a daily basis. At the beginning of the day, a pair of tellers have to remove a set number of checks from the vault, which are counted and logged. At closing time, the day's checks and remaining pre-printed blank checks have to be reconciled and recorded again. 

When human error comes into play, such as miscounting the number of checks that were removed or are left, or if a teller forgets to record a check that was misprinted, that time adds up quickly, costing your organization significantly

For fast-paced financial institutions, it can be difficult or even impossible to determine if the check was printed in error or if you'll have to watch out for fraud in the future. It's also difficult to track these checks through your system, which can lead to lost revenue opportunities and, again, the possibility of fraud. 

But what if you could use better technology for printing checks at your office?

By comparison, you could work with a secure MICR check printer. A MICR check printer uses a special type of magnetic toner to print the check, which makes it much harder to forge. It's printed on regular paper, avoiding much of the potential for forgeries to take place. 

There is no special handling, so it's a much faster process, taking only a couple of minutes from the time the teller starts taking the consumer’s information to when they have the completed check in hand. This drastically improves consumers’ opinions of your service. 

Because the issuing data is captured at the time of printing, it's much easier to audit, remain in compliance, and track the check through your system. In sum, MICR check printing drastically improves your printing time, reduces costs, and virtually eliminates fraud.


The Better Solution: MICR Check Printing

Take a look at the benefits of using a MICR check printer:


  • Reduces your check issuance time by 75 to 80%, allowing your tellers to serve more consumers quickly
  • Saves a little over 90% on the paper costs by being able to use plain paper rather than pre-printed checks
  • Eliminates bulky multi-part forms that are used to track the checks that have been issued, reducing your paper filing needs
  • Removes the risk of expensive misdeeds that increase your overall costs without gaining additional revenue
  • Eliminates manual inputs that can cost you payroll time with your tellers as they have to work through the process
  • Removes the need for check inventory control and secured access, as you'll be able to use ordinary paper
  • Reduces the risks of fraud to virtually nothing, as MICR check printing requirements are very specific

Whether you're looking at MICR ink printers for each teller station or a single MICR toner printer for the entire office, these specialized printers use magnetic ink or toner to help create a document that’s nearly impossible to forge. 

Secure MICR Printers Reduce the Risk of All Types of Check Fraud

It's estimated that 47% of companies experienced fraud within the last two years, totaling losses of $42 billion. MICR check printer technology can drastically reduce the risk of fraud to your financial institution or organization. 


There are several types of check fraud that can take place within financial institutions, including:

  • Stock pilfering: Occurs when employees steal extra check blanks and use them for gain
  • Check alteration: The check itself is altered to represent a larger amount, something that isn't easily detectable
  • Check duplication: Unlike laser check printers, MICR printers are secured against this type of fraud
  • Counterfeit checks: Easy to produce when the high-security features of MICR printers are not utilized
  • Piggybacking: Puts two checks on the same image, creating the possibility of misuse
  • General ledger mismatching: This can allow fraud by misappropriating funds

Keep in mind that MICR ink is required for secure MICR check printing. Using regular toner will not deliver the level of security that you would need when using blank check stock. This leaves your organization or financial institution open to risks from fraud and similar issues. 

That said, it still only costs about $0.21 per check for MICR check printing requirements, drastically reducing your overall costs despite the specialized technology that you're using. 

Additionally, a MICR laser printer is very efficient in terms of cost and avoiding fraud risk and must be used to meet ANSI standards. For this reason, we highly recommend going this route when investing in a MICR check printer system versus going with a MICR ink printer.


Do I Need a MICR Printer for My Branch or Office?

Absolutely — a MICR printer delivers outstanding economy, security, and time savings, making it a great option for optimizing your overhead expenses and reducing unnecessary costs. 


Given today's trend towards digital transformation and the evolution of the agile, flexible business, these benefits far outweigh the cost of investment, providing you with solid solutions that will serve your institution well for many years to come.

The MICR printer and toner create machine-readable data on the check itself, allowing you to undertake further automation of your system and reducing the amount of labor that is needed to undertake daily tasks. 

Additionally, our MICR printers are guaranteed to meet or exceed ANSI X9 standards for three years, providing you with protection against a wide range of issues that can occur in financial institutions as well as any concerns you may have about the technology behind MICR check printing. 

Beyond financial institutions, MICR check printing can be used to prevent fraud in rebate checks, deposit slips, money orders, lending and title companies, WIC checks, insurance documents, accounts payable, payroll, and other distributions.

Across multiple industries, in businesses both large and small, MICR printers deliver a strong level of security while lowering risk and expense. They work well for live financial documents like checks, helping you to streamline your office procedures and speed up the processing time for consumers’ checks. 

By making a smart investment into MICR check printer technology, you can enjoy these benefits without a lot of extra expense.


Work With Some of the Best Minds in the Industry

When your business relies on check printing, your system needs to be free of failures, allowing your tellers to serve more consumers on a daily basis while reducing wait times in your lobby or teller lines. This technology also delivers solid benefits in terms of security and economy of cost, making it a great option to help protect your company's bottom line.

Source Technologies has a solid background and extensive experience helping companies implement time-saving, cost-cutting measures for over 30 years. Our partnership with Lexmark goes back just as far, allowing us to find the solutions you need for your business. 

At the same time, our secure MICR check printers help you minimize risk to your business while mitigating the expense of waste. You'll enjoy unmatched protection against check fraud issues and a solid lift in the productivity levels of your team.

If you're considering moving over to MICR check printer technology, Source Technologies can help. For more details on our MICR laser printer options or to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced professionals, contact us today.