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MICR Check Printing: The Debate Continues

People often say to me, “Stu, I was perusing your wonderful website the other day, as I often do for pleasure,” (I know it’s that user-friendly, informative, and fun), “and I saw that you guys still sell MICR toner.  What’s the deal with that?  Isn’t that a little anachronistic, like selling lead-based paint or mullet haircuts?”

Firstly, when did the mullet go out of style?  Secondly, I understand the confusion, so let me explain.

MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. The salient points to MICR check printing are:  First , special (magnetic) toner may be used to print the line of bank numbers on the bottom of the checks. Second, a special font is used to print those same bank numbers. In the 1950s when the American Banking Association (ABA) defined the rules & regulations for check printing, they wrote that MICR was required. It made sense – banks could process checks at a rapid pace with the automation of the MICR readers.

But then in 2003, Congress passed The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act.  “Check 21” allows the receiving bank of the original check to make a digital copy to be sent to the originating bank and the originating bank prints a hard copy of the digital copy which is used thereafter as the legal document (called a substitute check).  This is known as check truncation.  I won’t bore you with further details (although if you would like to hear more, give me a call.  Check payment history is a personal hobby of mine), but in essence checks could now be passed electronically.  So what does that mean for the MICR check printing?  It means that banks are now reading the information on checks optically rather than magnetically. However, there are a few institutions such as paycheck cashing services that may still use the older magnetic readers.  Some folks like to use the MICR toner for the convenience of these institutions. The PrintBoss software will ensure your MICR line (with or without the MICR toner) will print in the correct font and placement every time with no extra steps, hardware, or installation.

To print good QuickBooks checks every time, just click print and let PrintBoss handle the rest.