What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of MICR?

Magnetic ink character recognition systems offer high security levels because the MICR characters are written using iron oxide ink and follow a strict format, which makes it virtually impossible to forge; however, these specialized systems are costly and can only be used to read MICR fonts written in specific formats. The cartridges used in MICR printers are also more costly compared to other toner cartridges.

Another key advantage of magnetic ink character recognition is that it has a small reading error rate. MICR scanners are developed to precisely decipher characters, as long as they follow the standards established by the American Bankers Association, ABA, and American National Standards Institute, ANSI.

These standards are quite high and may be difficult to achieve which can be a distinct disadvantage for some institutions. ANSI manages and implements all printing standards; if the MICR fonts do not meet the set standards, they will cause processing errors and be rejected at banks and other institutions.

The magnetic ink character recognition technology is mostly used by banks to verify the validity of checks; some airlines use them to validate flight tickets. The characters and numbers are typically found at the bottom of checks. Laser printers that use MICR toners are used to print the magnetic ink characters.