The ease and speed of personally and digitally verifying the legitimacy of an official paper document, such as a check or bank note, are advantages of magnetic ink character recognition. This technology is often used in the banking industry to facilitate the processing and clearance of checks.

Magnetic ink character recognition is often abbreviated to MICR. Documents featuring MICR usually have a line of characters printed in magnetic ink at the bottom of the page. The MICR code features information such as the type of document, the bank account number, the bank code, the check number and the check amount. MICR readers are able to digitally scan these codes directly to the database, reducing the risk of transcription errors.

An MICR reader magnetizes the characters on the document. These magnetized letters are passed over a reading head, similar to that of a cassette recorder. The unique waveform produced by each character is identified by the reader and fed into the system.

Unlike barcodes, NFC and chip-based technologies, MICR characters can be read by humans. The two major MICR fonts used are E-13B and CMC-7. The two feature 14 and 15 character sets respectively. These sets include numbers from 0-9, plus additional control characters to indicate breaks, transitions and appended information.