The main challenge with check processing is to streamline and automate the process to reduce keystrokes.  Two technologies are used to automate this process.  The first has been used for over half a century; it is magnetic ink character recognition or MICR.  This process uses ink with magnetic resonance to print characters on the bottom of each check indicating the routing and transit (R/T) numbers of the clearing bank, the account number on which the check is drawn, and the check number.  In the past, the amount of the check was later power encoded onto the document; however, this process is rarely, if ever, used any longer.

These characters are then read by a MICR read head built into the check scanner.  Before passing by the MICR head, the check
passes by a magnet which charges the ink for more accurate reading.  The item then passes by the MICR head and the signal from the characters are captured and interpolated, using complex algorithms, into characters which are passed along to the check capture application.  The system has a fairly high degree of accuracy, often in the 90 percentile, however, even a small percentage of improvement in accuracy can have a huge impact in the reduction of keying required by the teller or scanner operator.

Some companies will augment the magnetic reading of the item’s MICR characters with optical character recognition (OCR) to verify the read.  OCR uses the scanner’s cameras or optical reader to capture the characters on the MICR line of the check.  Using sophisticated algorithms, the data on the front of the check are converted into characters and compared with those captured by the magnetic read head for verification purposes.  The optical read is used for verification purposes only, not to alter what is read by the magnetic read.

In some cases the scanner may not be equipped with a magnetic read head and will use the optical read of the MICR line to pass along to the deposit software application.  In addition, two other fields on the check are read optically and converted to characters to pass along to the application – those fields are the courtesy amount and the legal amount on the check.

The courtesy amount on the check is the box in which the dollar amount is written out numerically and is generally to the right of the field indicating to whom the check is written.  The legal amount of the check is the field in which the amount is written out long hand.  This field generally appears below the field indicating to whom the check is written.  Special algorithms are used to read and interpolate these fields known as CAR/LAR software.  CAR/LAR software can achieve reading accuracy of up to 90+% on certain documents, with average accuracy ranging in the mid 80 percentiles.

Digital Check utilizes adaptive thresholding technology to clear away background images from the documents to increase the success rates of both the MICR read and more particularly, the CAR/LAR reads.  These reads are particularly challenging when it comes to money orders, savings bonds, travelers checks, and other payment instruments.  Digital Check uses a feature known as Special Document Handling (SDH) to “zone in” on particular parts of the document for special thresholding settings unique to that item and that particular zone on the item.

For more information about Digital Check’s Special Document Handling (SDH) or other image improvement and MICR reading technology, visit our Software and Services section, call 847-446-2285, or email us.

Digital Check TS240 and BX7200 with superior MICR reading capabilities


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