Bank IFSC Code & MICR Code
Understanding IFSC Code
IFSC Code stands for Indian Financial System Code, which is a unique eleven-digit code that is used to identify the exact bank branch. This code is a combination of numbers and alphabet and is used to transfer money online via the transaction modes like IMPS, NEFT and RTGS. One can find the IFSC code on the welcome letter issued by the Banks, in their net-banking profile summary or in the cheque book that is issued by their Bank. IFSC code can also be found on the RBI website or the payment gateway websites that assist individuals to find their branch via the IFSC code or via the bank name and address.
IFSC code remains permanent and there are changes only in an exceptional case like that of a Bank getting merged with another, in those cases, banks communicate the updated IFSC code to all their customers and also reflects on the RBI platform which is picked by all the payment gateways. An IFSC Code is today mandatory to complete the transaction, with IFSC code the transactions were made faster and easier to process from one bank to another.
Understanding IFSC Format
IFSC Code is a unique code that represents a specific branch of a bank and its first 4 characters which are alphabets represent the name of the bank. The last 6 characters which are usually numbers but can also be alphanumeric represent the branch, while the fifth character is 0.
IFSC Code or the Indian Financial System Code is a unique identifier to facilitate the electronic fund transfers and today since almost entire inter-bank fund transfer is electronic, the IFSC code is extremely important. The alphanumeric IFSC code uniquely identifies the specific bank and its branch that is a participant in the payment settlement governed by the Reserve Bank of India. For instance if you need to transfer funds electronically to your colleague from your bank account in HDFC Bank to colleague’s bank account in ICICI Bank, you will need to enter the Bank Account of your colleague along with the IFSC code, the IFSC code will identify the bank and its specific branch which is ICICI Bank in our example and the bank account number will identify the individual’s account with that bank and its branch. These two unique identifiers will facilitate the interbank fund transfer, in our example, it happens from HDFC Bank to ICICI Bank.
How to use IFSC Code
While today there are several modes of instant money transfer IFSC Code which is 11 character alphanumeric code facilitates the interbank electronic fund transfer. Here are the key modes of electronic funds transfer:
NEFT or the National Electronic Fund Transfer is a preferred method of transferring for corporations or people who like to transfer funds to a limited and registered set of people as one has to register the payees for NEFT fund transfer. The registration process includes entering the baking details of the person or accounts the funds have to be transferred to and the same to be verified with a One Time Password or OTP as it is commonly known as the registration process cannot be completed if one does not have a registered mobile number with the bank. The money is transferred via NEFT in various batches and currently, there are 12 batches of payment settlement approved by RBI for Monday to Friday, the time slots for which are between 8 am to 6 pm and six payment settlement batches between 8 am to 1 pm for Saturdays. RBI hasn’t set a limit on the transactions that can be processed using the NEFT channel. However, some banks like State Bank of India has put a cap of INR 10 Lakhs for their retail banking customers.
Here’s a quick procedure guide to making an NEFT transaction:
- The Bank and your account branch should be NEFT enabled (one can check the NEFT enabled branches on RBI’s website). Today, most branches of commercial bank’s are NEFT enabled
- Add the beneficiary using their account number and IFSC code
- Verify the beneficiary using the one time password on your registered mobile number
- After successful addition, Banks usually take some time to confirm before one can start the transactions, it could be from 30 minutes to 24 hours depending upon the bank.
- Log in to the net banking via the online banking portal of your bank
- Visit the Transfer or Funds Transfer Section
- Select the payee from the list of registered beneficiaries
- Mention the amount and description
- Transfer Funds and verify using OTP or any other means of secured verification as per the bank.
- Amount gets transferred to the beneficiary in the next available payment cycle as per the settlement window.
- Banks might charge a small amount between INR 2.5 to INR 25 or even offer it for free depending upon the agreed terms and conditions at the time of account opening.
A key limitation of the NEFT system is that one cannot transfer funds in real-time and it is dependent on the payment settlement cycle. Also, the service does not work on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
RTGS or the Real Time Gross Settlement is a real-time payment mechanism for high-value funds transfer. While the earlier minimum limit for RTGS was INR 25 Lacs, the same has now been revised to INR 2 Lacs, while there is no upper limit on the amount for an RTGS transfer. The transfer happens in real-time and the beneficiary which could be a person or a company will receive the amount within 30 minutes itself.
Here are some quick highlights for doing an RTGS transfer
- Ensure your bank account is RTGS enabled
- Ensure the bank account of the beneficiary is also RTGS enabled, one can check the list of RTGS enabled branches from RBI’s website
- Enter account number and IFSC code of the beneficiary or select a pre-added beneficiary from the list of registered beneficiaries
- Enter the appropriate amount for amount transfer
- Verify using the bank’s security mechanism which could be an OTP verification
- Bank’s charge a fee for RTGS transfers, normally a transfer up to INR 5 Lakhs costs around INR 30 and the charge is INR 55 for transfers above INR 5 lakhs
RTGS transfers work from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays and 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturdays.
IMPS or the Immediate Payment Service is used for instant fund transfer between a person and a person or even a merchant. IMPS facility works across the year, 24 hours and all 7 days of the week. Introduced in 2010 by the NPCI or the National Payments Corporation of India, IMPS was an absolute revolution and gave the country a taste of the things that we use now like UPI and payment wallets.
Here’s how an IMPS transaction works:
- Login to NetBanking
- Ensure your account and the beneficiary’s bank account is IMPS enabled
- Visit Transfer or Funds Transfer Section
- Choose IMPS amongst the fund transfer options like NEFT, RTGS and IMPS
- Either select a registered payee or add an ad-hoc beneficiary
- Ad-Hoc beneficiary could simply be added by mentioning IFSC Code and Bank Account Number
- One can also generate an MMID or Mobile Money Identifier which does not require one to enter the bank account number and IFSC Code
- MMID is a 7 digit code that could be generated from the net banking section
- IMPS may be free or some banks could also charge INR 5 for transfers up to 1 Lakh or INR 15 for transfers above 1 Lac.
- IMPS is usually limited to INR 2 Lacs only
How to Know IFSC Code
IFSC Code can be simply obtained by looking at one’s bank account passbook or cheque book as the IFSC code is mentioned in both these documents. One can also get to know the IFSC code from the net banking section as most banks provide the tools to identify an IFSC code based on the Bank’s name and the branch name. A person can also get this information from the RBI’s website.
How is IFSC different from MICR Code?
MICR or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition is a technology used to validate the authenticity of the paper documents like a cheque, MICR code is printed on the cheque books and other banking documents. Unlike the Bar-Codes and QR Codes, a MICR code could be easily read by humans as well. MICR Code is placed at the bottom of a cheque book along with details that include the bank code, account details, cheque number and a control indicator.
While, both MICR and IFSC are used for funds transfer
MICR is an acronym for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. Primarily, this innovative technology authenticates the legality and credibility of paper-based document(s) in the banking database. It can be found on cheques. MICR is at par with IFSC as far as the security of a fund transfer is concerned.
The MICR code is a product of highly advanced Character Recognition Technology (CRT) used by banks to verify cheques for clearance. MICR technology is used for other bank documents as well. A MICR code is placed at the bottom of a cheque. It includes details such as the bank code, account details, amount, and cheque number, alongside a control indicator. The biggest advantage of MICR technology is that it stands out among similar concepts, such as barcodes, as MICR can be read and distinguished by humans very easily.
Difference between IFSC Code & MICR Code
As monetary transactions are not limited to financial institutions like banks, thorough verification is necessary before processing a transaction. To make the process faster, simpler and automatic, banks and other financial institutions rely on certain codes. These codes, namely, MICR Code and IFSC Code, play a significant role in verifying the authenticity of a transaction. However, there is a difference between the usage of both these codes, while an IFSC code is used for electronic funds transfer and MICR code is used for paper-based funds transfer like a cheque. Also while IFSC code is an 11 digit and a MICR code is 9 digit code.