Streamlining and improving processing is something all companies continually do to stay competitive and efficient.  One such improvement that continues to be an integral standard today is Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR), a technology invented in the 1950s that allows a machine readable line on every check to process it more efficiently than by hand. MICR Printers are used to print checks with MICR Ink or Toner.

The MICR standard allows financial institutions to streamline their check processing.  A designated area on every check is exclusive for characters printed with special MICR Fonts, known as MICR Characters, and are printed with MICR Toner or MICR Ink.  This combination of MICR Toner and MICR Fonts creates the machine readable MICR line.  The MICR line is used to identify the bank, bank account and check number.  Banks also add the payment amount to the MICR line during the check processing operation.

This technology allows high-speed MICR reading machines to process checks quickly and accurately. 
Unlike barcodes, the MICR font can also be easily read by humans.

MICR Toner or Ink is the specific element which adds the magnetic readability to each character, enabling checks to be cleared at high-speed. 
MICR is standardized by ISO 1004:1995.  There are also ANSI standards for check printing.  You can review the ANSI standards and a definition of terms for MICR check printing in the ANSI ASC X9 TR 100-2006 document, which can be found at http://www.x9.org/standards/free/TR_100-2006.

MICR Check Printing Software, like Prelude's PayPilot solution, make it possible to print MICR Checks safely and securely.