What Is Magnetic Ink?

by KirkB - Updated September 26, 2017

Magnetic ink is very useful because it is readable both by humans and by specialized equipment. It is one of the components that makes it possible to process personal checks securely, quickly and accurately.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Technology

Magnetic ink contains particles, usually iron oxide, which are magnetized and read with special equipment compatible with Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) technology. Because there is a unique signature associated with each magnetized character, MICR equipment identifies each character very quickly and with a very high degree of accuracy, even if the characters are visually obscured by other marks or have been altered with ordinary ink.

Commercial Uses of MICR

Financial institutions worldwide use MICR equipment and protocols to accurately and quickly process vast quantities of personal checks and other financial documents. MICR technology, comparatively speaking, has a very low instance of misread characters.

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Consumer Uses of MICR

A wide variety of MICR compatible inks, toner cartridges, printers and check printing software is readily available for small business and home applications. This has enabled the general public to take advantage of the security and reliability features of MICR technology that were once only viable for large corporations and financial institutions.

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