WhatsApp Business API Providers: Chat API vs Twilio
WhatsApp is no doubt a force to be reckoned with.
With 2 billion users worldwide, it definitely needs to be in every customer-oriented company’s engagement strategy.
Businesses need to choose the right tool to supercharge customer engagement as customers today crave the good old personal touch.
Besides, if the current COVID-19 situation is anything to go by, even the World Health Organisation has partnered with WhatsApp to keep the world updated. Find out more about WhatsApp Business through our all-you-need-to-know blog on WhatsApp Business!
Undeniably, with so many different providers in the market, the question on everyone’s mind is “How to choose a WhatsApp Business Provider?”
This is especially key for companies in the services, e-commerce, and social commerce space. For these businesses, seamless, personalized customer service will definitely give you an edge above the rest.
In this article, we will do a deep dive into two WhatsApp Business providers, Twilio & Chat API.
We will highlight their similarities and differences so that you can make an informed decision on which suits your needs best!
Chat API is a Third-Party WhatsApp Business API provider that allows you to create chatbots and integrate WhatsApp with business systems. Some examples of possible integrations include CRM, ERP, or even a website.
On the other hand, Twilio provides a developer platform for communications and is an official WhatsApp Business provider. Twilio can be used by software teams to add capabilities like voice, video, and messaging to their applications.
However, Chat API’s stability and usability are subject to many factors such as internet connectivity. As it is not an Official WhatsApp Business API provider, your WhatsApp Business account may be vulnerable to being blocked by users.
Let’s take a look at their differences!
We’ve summed up how the different provider status impacts your usage in the table below:
Using Chat API means that there is no limitation on the type of content and materials you can send to your customers. However, it does not function on the same level as Twilio, an Official WhatsApp Business API provider.
It is important to note that Twilio has to adhere to guidelines set by WhatsApp. Thus, businesses need to send Template Messages for approval before they can be used. This ensures that customers are not being spammed by promotional messages.
Third-Party WhatsApp Business API providers like Chat API usually have a daily cap of 6000 messages that can be sent out. In addition, each message will be sent out in intervals of 5 seconds in an effort to reduce the chances of WhatsApp Business accounts being reported as spam and blocked. However, do take note that as Chat API is not an Official WhatsApp Business provider, your account still has a high possibility of being marked as spam and blocked.
That being said, both Chat API and Twilio should not be used to spam users that you have no prior contact.
Conversely, Twilio delivers all broadcast messages instantly and do not have a daily cap on messages sent as it is a pay-as-you-go service.
Chat API works exactly the way WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp desktop do. Therefore, businesses can use common functions such as different user profiles and WhatsApp groups.
On the other hand, businesses can obtain the green Verified Badge when using Twilio, the Official WhatsApp Business API provider! Doing so allows businesses to establish trust with customers from the first point of contact.
Contrarily, this function is not available when using Chat API.
Now, you’d probably be thinking, what’s a “Template Message”?
Only Official WhatsApp Business API providers like Twilio split WhatsApp messages into two categories: Template Messages and Session Messages.
Template Messages are pre-approved message templates for outbound notifications like delivery alerts and appointment reminders.
However, Template Messages cannot be used for marketing. You must use a WhatsApp Template Message if more than 24 hours have elapsed since the user’s last response to you. Any other types of messages sent outside the 24-hour window will fail to reach the user.
Template Messages are charged at a different rate depending on the country you sent to.
For example, if you want your customer to receive this message:
You would need to submit the following template for approval:
On the other hand, WhatsApp Session Messages are any messages sent and received in response to a user-initiated message.
A messaging session starts when a user sends you a message and lasts for 24 hours from the most recently received message.
You can wait for users to message you, or you can send a Template Message to invite the user to respond.
Read more about Template and Session Messages on our “Essential Guide: WhatsApp Business API” blog!
Moving on! As we all know, a phone number is required to run WhatsApp and both send and receive messages.
Businesses can use an existing phone number to run WhatsApp Business when using Chat API but a new virtual number is required when using Twilio.
Undeniably, using an existing number to run WhatsApp Business sounds convenient. However, this means that the WhatsApp Business app needs to remain consistently online for Chat API to send and receive messages. This means that entering low-connectivity areas such as lifts or car parks will affect Chat API’s stability.
That being said, unlike Chat API, Twilio does not require constant Internet nor WhatsApp Business app connectivity.
In addition, the phone installed with WhatsApp Business needs to be constantly connected to the Internet for Chat API to run.
Last but not least, do remember that Chat API cannot be used concurrently with WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop.
After hearing so much about both Chat API and Twilio, how much do they cost?
Businesses can start using Chat API for free through SleekFlow and add additional WhatsApp phone numbers with a USD $29 monthly fee per phone number added. On the other hand, the total monthly cost for using Twilio varies depending on the businesses’ usage.
To start using Twilio, businesses need to apply for a virtual number and the price of the virtual number varies depending on the country. Check out how much a virtual number costs in your country here.
For example, a Hong Kong number that includes voice and SMS capabilities costs USD$15. On the other hand, a Hong Kong number with only voice capabilities costs USD$6.
Thankfully, both types of virtual numbers can be used for WhatsApp Business!
Next, whenever businesses send a WhatsApp message using Twilio, a small fee will be charged.
WhatsApp Template Messages are pre-approved message templates for outbound notifications. They are usually used to send delivery alerts and appointment reminders and are charged at a different rate depending on the destination country it is sent to.
Here are the charges for some popular countries:
On the other hand, WhatsApp Session Messages are any messages businesses send in response to a user-initiated message. These messages cost USD$0.005 per message regardless of the message’s destination country.
Third-Party WhatsApp Business API providers do not differentiate between Template and Session Messages, all messages are treated the same way and are not individually chargeable.
Find out more about the pricing in Hong Kong and worldwide through our blog on WhatsApp Business API Pricing!
Using Chat API:
Then, businesses need to scan the generated QR code on SleekFlow with the installed WhatsApp Business app. This connects the app and completes the setup.
First, businesses need to create an account in the Twilio console and apply for a virtual phone number. Then, businesses need to submit business registration materials to Facebook for verification and approval.
The approval process usually takes 5 to 7 days, you can head over to our guide for more information.
Following this, businesses need to submit WhatsApp Template Messages for approval so that they can be used to contact customers. Each template will need to be approved before it can be sent out and the approval process usually takes around 3 hours to 1 day.
For businesses that want to use WhatsApp for customer support or add a chatbot to their workflow, Twilio could be a good option.
Although SleekFlow provides and supports both WhatsApp Business API options, we recommend Twilio’s Official WhatsApp Business API for utmost stability and legitimacy.
Chat API and Twilio both allow you to send WhatsApp messages using SleekFlow, an omnichannel software solution that will help your sales and marketing team better engage customers on messaging apps through automation, campaigns, and messaging.
SleekFlow provides flexibility to integrate with both platforms at the same time. As an official partner of both Twilio and Facebook, SleekFlow ensures that we provide the latest APIs to our customers.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Chat API is a third-party WhatsApp Business provider. As Chat API is not an official WhatsApp Business provider, it does not function on the same level as official WhatsApp Business providers such as Twilio.
That being said, there are countless WhatsApp Business API providers on the market. Therefore, it is key that businesses consider their usage and requirements when deciding on a WhatsApp Business API provider to ensure that their needs are met. Our team at SleekFlow has written an Essential Guide to the WhatsApp Business API to demystify this seemingly confusing concept!
Finally, here’s a roundup on the comparison between Chat API and Twilio: