In May 2022, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced that WhatsApp Cloud API (or WhatsApp Business Cloud API) would be made available to businesses globally to help them benefit from WhatsApp’s communication and marketing features. Strategically, this was Meta’s effort to promote WhatsApp and increase their business.
This article covers everything you, as a business owner, must know about WhatsApp Cloud API, Meta’s latest offering.
What is WhatsApp Cloud API?
WhatsApp Cloud API is the cloud-hosted variant of WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business Cloud API.
Until now, WhatsApp had three variants, including WhatsApp (for non-commercial purposes), WhatsApp Business (for small businesses), and WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business API for companies wanting to benefit from WhatsApp’s advanced features like CRM integration, sending unlimited messages, automations, etc.
While WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business were both free to download, install, and use, WhatsApp API required businesses to apply through a WhatsApp Partner or WhatsApp Business Solutions Provider (BSP) and gain approval to use WhatsApp API.
Now, WhatsApp Cloud API is the fourth addition to the list that removes the costs associated with applying for WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business API through intermediaries like Gupshup and Twilio, including the costs associated with them.
So, WhatsApp Cloud API functions like WhatsApp Business API, but it is hosted in the cloud on Meta’s servers instead of a WhatsApp Business Solutions Provider (BSP)’s servers or data centers.
Unlike WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Cloud API does not require businesses to approach a WhatsApp Business Solutions Provider (BSP) to register their application to use WhatsApp API service.
This removes the time and hassle of having to apply for API access through a WhatsApp BSP as well as any costs associated with them.
What is the difference between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API?
Several features are identical between WhatsApp Business API (or WhatsApp API) and WhatsApp Cloud API or WhatsApp Business Cloud API, but there are some differences, too.
We hope this neat table helps you get a better understanding of the differences between WhatsApp's Cloud API and Business API.
What are the features of WhatsApp Cloud API?
WhatsApp Cloud API includes all the features present in WhatsApp Business API. Some of the features of WhatsApp Cloud API are –
- Zero hosting costs (Meta hosts the WhatsApp Cloud API)
- Up to 80 messages per second combined sending and receiving (including text and media messages); from July 2022, this will be increased to 250 messages per second (by request)
- Free API software upgrades by Meta
- End-to-end encryption
- Seamless integration of WhatsApp’s messaging facilities with third-party applications (such as for CRM or analytics)
- Bulk messaging and broadcasting capabilities
- Direct access (no need to apply via WhatsApp partners or Business Solutions Partners) to qualify
- Schedule WhatsApp messages at scale
- 99.9% Uptime SLA guaranteed by Meta
- 24/7 support for critical issues with continuous follow-up till resolution
- Chatbot integration and chat automation via third-party apps
What about WhatsApp Cloud API pricing?
WhatsApp Cloud API is free to access, but users are billed on the basis of conversations. A conversation includes all messages exchanged between the user and the business within 24 hours of initiation. Conversations on WhatsApp fall into one of the two categories:
- User-initiated: when a user messages the business and the latter reverts within 24 hours, the exchange is termed as a user-initiated conversation.
- Business-initiated: when a business messages a user after the 24 hours of user-initiated conversation has passed, it is termed as a business-initiated conversation.
In user-initiated conversations, businesses can send free-form messages, but business-initiated conversations require message templates to communicate with users.
Businesses using WhatsApp Cloud API can have 1,000 conversations (inclusive of user-initiated and business-initiated) every month for free. Beyond this limit, a credit card must be mandatorily added to your account.
Businesses are not charged for a conversation when a user messages a business through the latter’s call-to-action (CTA) buttons on their ads (that click to their WhatsApp profile or Facebook page). However, subsequent conversations with the said user are charged as conversations usually would be.
Note that while the entry point for users clicking on the ads to message the business is free, the ad itself is not.
We've previously written about how WhatsApp API pricing works. Cloud API pricing is exactly the same. To know more about Meta’s WhatsApp Cloud API pricing rates, go here.
How to get WhatsApp Cloud API?
If you are a developer or business owner, you can get the WhatsApp Cloud API for free. To do so, follow the steps below –
1. Log on to www.developer.facebook.com and click on “Create app”
2. Click on ‘Business’ from the ‘Select an app type’ and click ‘Next’
3. Type a name for your app and the associated contact email address for the same; if you have a Facebook Business Account, then select that as well. Click ‘Create app’.
4. Click on ‘Set up’ for WhatsApp from the ‘Add products to your app’ menu
5. Select your Meta Business Account from the WhatsApp Platform API; click on ‘Continue’.
6. Copy and paste the temporary access token and keep it safely.
7. Select the phone number provided for testing, and enter another phone number where you wish to receive the message from Meta (via WhatsApp); this is needed to confirm that WhatsApp can send you messages from their servers. The message typed in the terminal says ‘Hello world’ but you can edit it whatever you like in the template manager. Click on ‘Send message’.
8. You should have received a WhatsApp message confirming the message delivered by the WhatsApp Cloud API team.
9. Navigate to Facebook template manager, you will see the default template already there. You can click on the ‘Create Message Template’ to create your own messages to send out to customers.
What are the limitations of WhatsApp Cloud API?
The most prominent limitation of WhatsApp Cloud API is that Meta does not provide a platform for the business to use the Cloud API.
An API is not a finished product that can be used right out-of-the-box. Unlike WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business, to access WhatsApp Cloud API, you need to code or make an app or platform to be able to benefit from WhatsApp’s features.
In other words, Meta only hosts the WhatsApp Cloud API, meaning you don’t have to pay the associated hosting costs. However, you still need to find a platform that lets you access the API.
If you want to use WhatsApp API directly without having to worry about the technical details, schedule a demo to see how we can help you.
However, if you are a business owner with a team of developers only looking to avoid the hosting fees associated with WhatsApp API, then WhatsApp Cloud API or WhatsApp Business Cloud API may be suitable for you.
However, WhatsApp Cloud API lacks several WhatsApp marketing features.
As a WhatsApp Cloud API or WhatsApp Business Cloud API user, you do not have access to -
- Abandoned cart recovery - the average cart abandonment rate is 69.57%, ranging from 56% to 81%. This is a significant figure and can dent your profit margins as a business. With DelightChat, you can automate abandoned cart recovery and convert those abandoned carts into completed sales.
- Analytics ROI - with WhatsApp Cloud API, you won’t have access to the analytics data on your business. As a business owner, you need data to make informed decisions, and lack of data can lead to entrepreneurs making costly mistakes that could have been avoided. DelightChat offers you advanced analytics on your business such as total figures (revenue, volume, etc.) as well as improved tracking of orders by customers.
- Automated order related notifications - your customers will want the order and checkout process from your online store to be as interactive as possible. This means keeping them updated throughout the entire process starting from their order confirmation to order tracking to delivery. WhatsApp Cloud API does not provide any of those. Fortunately, with DelightChat, you can access various features like Order Confirmation, Order Tracking, Order Tracking Link Generation, Cash on Delivery Verification, and more.
Aside from that, with DelightChat’s WhatsApp API, you can do a lot more such as deep Shopify integration as well as custom WhatsApp API use cases.
Grow your business using WhatsApp API via DelightChat
WhatsApp Cloud API (or WhatsApp Business Cloud API) has several capabilities identical to its on-premise variant, WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business API; however, instead of relying on a WhatsApp BSP, the businesses can receive API access from Meta directly.
However, the limitation is that Meta does not provide a platform for accessing its WhatsApp Cloud API. Hence, if you are a developer or a business owner with development resources, you can benefit from WhatsApp Cloud API’s functionalities.
So if you are looking to use WhatsApp API directly with powerful WhatsApp marketing & customer support features all in one platform, then DelightChat may just be what you need. Signup today or schedule a demo with our team for more details.