MICR code is an abbreviation of Magnetic Ink Character Recognition code. Chances are, you'll have seen MICR code on countless occasions, right at the bottom of personal cheques, business checks and other financial documents and vouchers. MICR code is used to simplify, secure and streamline the process of handling and clearing cheques and similar financial documents.
The vast majority of MICR codes are made up of nine digits - each group of three digits detailing important information about the transaction. For example, the first three digits of the MICR code represent the location code, confirming the town or city in which the branches located. MICR code can also contain information such as transaction amount, unique cheque number, bank account number and so on.
Computerised scanners are used to read the information, which detects the magnetic ink and processes it into digital data. While MICR codes can be read easily by humans - just like barcodes - it takes specialist technology to print MICR codes onto formal financial documents.
Much of the world follows the ISO 1004: 1995 by using the MICR E-13B as an international standard. However, there are various nations that more widely use the CMC-7 font, which include Brazil, Mexico and parts of Europe. Likewise, the MICR E-13B font is widely used and accepted in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Depending on the coding scheme used, the number of characters may vary - MC-7 has a set of 10 numeric characters along with control characters, while MICR E-13B has a set of 14 characters.