MICR Basics: How MICR Check Printers Work

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Even with all the sophisticated payment methods available today, paper checks are still a popular method for making payments, especially in business-to-business (B2B) transactions. If you are printing checks, it is still a Federal Reserve (ANSI) standard that the MICR line on checks is printed in MICR toner and is present at the bottom.

What is MICR and Why Do You Need it?

You might be asking yourself “What is MICR and why do I need to use it?”. MICR is an acronym, and stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. It describes the specialized toner used to print the routing number and account number at the bottom of a check. In short, you need it because the Federal Reserve requires it to make check processing efficient. When a paper check moves through the check clearing system, reader/sorters send a magnetic charge to the check in order to read the information on the MICR line. In fact, the MICR line on checks is read several times during the clearing process at very fast speeds, so it’s important that the MICR numbers are printed to exact specification. If they aren’t, the check could get rejected by the reader/sorters and sent to the back office where it must be cleared manually, costing the bank additional money. This process often results in the bank charging fees back to the check issuer.

MICR Check Printer Template

The quality of MICR printing and the position of all printed information on the check is critical. Secure MICR check printers contain components such as a large transfer roller to help position all information exactly right. The MICR Template below shows the exact placement of static and variable data for the check, and can be placed over a check to ensure the information lines up correctly.

The Strength of MICR Toner

The magnetic strength of the MICR toner used is also of great importance. If the signal strength, adhesion, durability, and yield of the MICR toner cartridge do not meet the strict standards set by the Accredited Standards Committee on Financial Services, the check will likely be rejected and result in unnecessary bank fees.

Since a check is a secure document, the right controls must be in place from data file transfer all the way to printer output. A truly secure MICR check printing solution ensures that data is encrypted all the way to the printer, where it is decrypted and then printed onto the blank check stock. Distinct security features must be present to ensure the printer has the correct toner, is only accessible by approved personnel, cannot print duplicate copies of the same check, and carries an audit trail for reporting.

At Source Technologies, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the knowledge to understand how our MICR check printers ensure that you are abiding by the Federal Reserve (ANSI) standards when printing checks. Let our team answer your questions like "What is MICR?" and "How can I implement MICR check printers?” by contacting us today.

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