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The following are some of the  most Frequent Asked Questions of MICRCheque about MICR Laser Cheque Printing.

What is MICR?

The term "MICR" (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) refers to the MICR line of numbers and special characters that appear at the bottom of every cheque. In the UK this is designated as a E-13B Font. The MICR line for the UK is grouped into four fields (from right to left) for transaction code, Account Number, Branch Sort Code and Cheque Number. These fields are used by financial institutions in the automated cheque clearing process. APACS* standards apply to the MICR line data and field positioning.

What makes a MICR enhanced laser printer different from a normal laser printer?

Multiple standards are required by the banking industry for MICR documents. The MICR laser printer must conform to the APACS*standards for MICR printing. MICR laser printers are either built or general laser printers are modified and adjusted to conform to the APACS* developed standards. Normal laser printers conform only to user readability preferences while MICR lasers must conform to electronic MICR durability, uniformity, numeric placement and font standards. Special removable font cartridges and PCMCIA cards hold the fonts, company logos, signatures and other information needed to print cheques.

Interestingly impact printers are not subject to the rigorous testing as for laser printers so manufacturers may claim what they like.

What is the difference between laser toner and MICR toner?

MICR toner contains an iron oxide that permits the "bank line" information on a cheque to be magnetized and read by electronic bank processing equipment. MICR toner is similar to standard laser printer toner, but requires a 50% to 60% iron oxide additive content to meet APACS* specifications for readability standards.

Who sets MICR standards?

In the UK the * Association for Processing And Clearance of Cheques (APACS) sets very precise standards for the design and layout of cheques including dimensions, location, shape, permanence and signal strength of MICR characters. Companies whose cheques do not conform to these standards may be charged by their bank and have indemnity issues if their cheques are rejected for poor MICR quality on the cheque form. In addition Cheque Stock is also closely controlled by APACS specifications and such stock may only be obtained through APACS accredited Security Printers.

Should I be concerned about cheque fraud?

Yes! - Latest surveys show that in the USA cheque fraud amounts to some 13 Billion dollars each year and is significant, many millions of pounds, in the UK. Cheque fraud does not just happen to the "other fellow." Businesses, both large and small, have fallen prey to fraud perpetrators. However, prevention is the best safeguard against cheque fraud and can be easily implemented by your company. An audit department will always be interested in solutions such as the MICRCheque Secure Printing System which substantially improves cheque issuing security complemented by the cost saving and ease of use benefits.

Latest research in the UK shows that as credit card fraud prevention has been improving cheque fraud is increasing.

What are the components of a MICR laser cheque system?

The essential components of a MICR laser Cheque System are:

A MICR laser printer that is capable of sustaining a cheque creation that conforms to the APACS standards. These standards govern the placement of the MICR line, and stress the consistency and durability conformance that is required for the composition of the MICR font and its application on the cheque.

A MICR toner designed and tested for the printer being used is required. All laser printers do not function alike in a MICR environment. The MICR toner must be of sufficient composition to ensure readability of the MICR line and the printer must be capable of applying the MICR line to withstand the multiple pass reader-processing in the bank clearing system. The E-13B MICR font itself may have to be tailored for a specific printer.

A security cartridge or PCMCIA port is suggested so that the signature, logo and font information contained on these items can be removed from the printer and safely stored in a secure environment.

A blank paper stock with security is required. Security paper is fraud resistant to tampering and forgery. The paper is "engineered" with various features built into the paper to prevent fraud, to create a secure cheque document.

Also required is cheque creation software that is "easy to use" yet contains a highly structured security system to control access to the software and data. In addition to ease of use, secure access and control, and post-processing features such as Positive Pay for bank-client fraud prevention processing can be important. The software should also be able to easily interface with the available hardware and financial application software of the user. The software should also be modular and enable new features to be easily added when required.

How is a cheque printed from blank safety paper?

MICR laser printing has the capability to imprint all information on the cheque including the MICR line, your digitized signature, and all other variable information. The same stock of blank security cheque paper can be used for any number of bank accounts. The MICR printer applies the data to the cheque with magnetic toner that enables the "MICR line" to be read by bank processing equipment.

What are the benefits of a MICR laser cheque system?

Most users cite the following as the main benefits of converting to MICR printing:

MICR laser cheque processing provides a much higher level of security than does non-MICR laser processing on impact printer systems.

Cost reductions due to the elimination of the inventory and control of pre-printed check stock and the associated reduction in labour intensive activities such as decollating, bursting, check signing and some post processing operations.

A MICR laser cheque is created in a single step process. A sheet of blank security cheque stock becomes a complete cheque with variable payee data, signatures and logos, bank identification, and an electronically readable MICR line.

Increases your flexibility to add, change or delete new bank accounts on demand and to change any related document e.g. remittance type information at will. There are post-printing security processing benefits such as with banking Positive Pay systems.

Cheques may be printed directly by the issuing department ready for dispatch.

What does MICRcheque supply that distinguishes it from other vendors?

MICRCheque is a "One Stop Solution" vendor. One call to MICRCheque can provide you with a Turnkey Solution, which includes an APACS approved MICR printer, high security proven cheque printing software, security paper safety cheque stock, digitized signatures and logo, securely stored, at an all-inclusive cost.

MICRCheque also supplies MICR laser cheque printing software across the spectrum of cheque printing including Instant Cheques, Letter Cheques and Cheque Book Production.

 MICRCheque will also provide document design, digitization and  consultancy services.

MICRCheque is dedicated to and specializes in Cheque Printing Solutions.

How can I review the MICRCheque Secure Printing System and acquire further information about MICR printing for my company?

For further information about MICRCheque solutions, products and services contact:

MICRCheque Ltd

Tel:  +44 (0) 0208 949 1513
 Fax: +44 (0) 0208 942 3258

e-mail: sales@micrcheque.com

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