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Wikipedia states:

Although compliance with MICR standards is voluntary in the United States, their use with cheques is almost universal.

So it's voluntary. I'm wondering if this means you could use a different monospaced font to print the typical MICR info (checking/routing numbers), or if it must be one of the 2 standard fonts, either E13B MICR font or CMC-7 font.

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“Voluntary” in this case means that the government does not enforce the standards. Instead, the banks do.

Checks are scanned by the banks using either optical or magnetic scanners. If you aren’t using the standard MICR font, you will have a problem.

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