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WhatsApp Business API: the online guide on pricing, solutions and functions

WhatsApp Business API: overview, functions, and pricing 2023

Here’s the essential guide to the WhatsApp Business API you’ve all been waiting for! “What is an API?” you might ask. API stands for Application Programming Interface. It refers to a software intermediary that allows two applications to communicate with each other.

For example, you’re at a restaurant and you are deciding what to eat by looking at the menu. The kitchen at the back is in charge of preparing all food orders. The critical missing link here is the waiter – also known as the API –  who will communicate your order to the kitchen and deliver the food back to you.

Similarly, that’s what the WhatsApp Business API does! In order to use the WhatsApp API, businesses will need to choose a provider and integrate it with software to fully unlock its function. With this powerful tool, your business can then streamline communication using functions like automated replies, WhatsApp broadcasting, chatbots, and interactive messages like WhatsApp buttons.

There are many other things you can do with the WhatsApp Business API, such as utilizing WhatsApp links that make it easier for customers to contact your business and also incorporating a WhatsApp Manager to better manage the surge in conversations!

Eager to try? Let's get started!

What is WhatsApp Business API?

So, what exactly is WhatsApp API?

WhatsApp Business API, also known as WhatsApp Business Platform, is a tool specially designed for businesses to power communication with customers all across the globe safely and effectively.

In overly simplified terms, WhatsApp Business API can be explained as an upgraded version of the WhatsApp Business App. While the WhatsApp Business App supports small businesses with basic functions such as business profiles, auto replies, labels, and more, the options are rather limited, especially for those dealing with a greater number of clients and daily inquiries.

Great things come with a price, and indeed, WhatsApp Business API charges conversation fees, but the conversions will speak for its worth. Other than the security and reliability it brings to both businesses and customers, WhatsApp API offers a wide range of additional features, including quick replies, chatbots, multiple logins, mass broadcasting, personalized messages, and many more to help businesses sell better online.

What about WhatsApp Cloud API? Learn more about what it is from our blog guide.

Discover what WhatsApp Business API can do for your business.

How is WhatsApp Business API different from WhatsApp Business App?

Considering the differences between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Business App is crucial. If a budget is required for this messaging solution, it will only make sense for business owners, marketers, customer support, or sales to truly weigh the pros and cons of each option, ensuring that the decision caters to the business needs.

WhatsAppWhatsApp Business AppWhatsApp Business API / WhatsApp Business Platform
Verified Business Profile (green tick)XX
Multi-agent accessX up to four linked devicesUnlimited
Broadcast messagingXAt risk of suspensionUnlimited
Managing multiple number in one viewXX
Integration with other softwareXXCRM, e-commerce softwares softwares
Application methodDownload from Apple App Store / Google Play StoreDownload from Apple App Store / Google Play Storevia SleekFlow

*Third-party WhatsApp Business API providers are no longer available since June 2022 in accordance with Meta's policy change.

The differences, at one glance, can be summarized as shown in the table above. To understand each of the distinct features in-depth, read on.

7 advantages of WhatsApp API

What can you do with the WhatsApp Business API?

The possibilities are endless! Businesses can integrate the WhatsApp Business API with platforms like SleekFlow to access more functions and increase workflow efficiency.

As we work through these 7 advantages of WhatsApp Business API, the benefits of WhatsApp Business API will be as clear as day.

Verified WhatsApp Business accounts

When using the WhatsApp Business App to contact customers, only the phone number will be displayed.

In contrast, WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to have a WhatsApp Official Business Account (OBA), showing the business name instead of the business phone number, displayed even if the customer has not saved the business’s phone number.

Official WhatsApp Business API

On top of that, there will also be a tiny green verification tick next to your business name to show authenticity and reliability.

not using the official WhatsApp Business API

With the WhatsApp Business green tick verification applied, you can avoid your WhatsApp Business account from being banned, saving the time and effort to go through all the hassle and suffering the consequences of never being able to use that number on WhatsApp again.

Read more about the steps for unblocking your WhatsApp account.

WhatsApp Business Template Messages

There are two types of WhatsApp Business Messages: Template Messages and Session Messages. 

WhatsApp Template Messages are pre-approved message templates for marketing, one-time password notifications, or outbound messages like delivery alerts and appointment reminders. WhatsApp Template Messages are categorized into:

  • Utility conversations

  • Authentication conversations

  • Marketing conversations

Here's how to determine your message category when you're putting Template Messages for WhatsApp's approval:

TypeUsageCategory of business-initiated conversation
MarketingPromotional offers, product announcements, discount codes, and moreMarketing conversations
One-time passwordsCodes for users to secure their accountsAuthentication conversations
Transactional messagesAccount or order updates, order delivery alerts, meeting reminders etc.Utility conversations

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.

Charges for different types of business-initiated conversations vary. If you were to send more than 1 type of business-initiated conversation within the same 24 hours, you will be charged twice for each type of conversation.

Find out more about the latest WhatsApp pricing structure starting in June 2023 in our quick guide.

Creating Template Messages

When using WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSP), the official WhatsApp Business API providers such as SleekFlow, 360dialog or Twilio, each template will need to be approved before it can be sent out. The approval process usually takes around 1 to 2 days for each template.

When creating a message template, you must add the following:

  • Name: A message template name can only contain lowercase alphanumeric characters and underscores. No other characters or spaces are allowed.

  • Type: Select the appropriate template type from the drop-down list. The template type must fall under one of the template type options, e.g. appointment update, issue resolution, payment update, etc.

  • Translations: All message template translations must be provided by you in the format below. The element name will be the same for all translations. When sending a message template from the WhatsApp Business API, you will specify the language you would like the message template to be displayed in by using the language field.

  • Variables: The correct format for variables is this string: {{#}}, where # represents the variable index. Note: variables must begin at {{1}}.

Formatting WhatsApp Business Template Messages

WhatsApp allows for basic formatting in message templates. Here are the formatting rules:

FormattingDescriptionSymbol Example
Italic textItalicize your message with an underscore on both sides of the text_text_Welcome to _SleekFlow_
Bold textPlace an asterisk on both sides of the text*text*Your total is USD *19.90*
Struck through textTo strikethrough your message, place a tilde on both sides of the text~text~This is ~better~ best!
Monospace text / codePlace three backticks on both sides of the text“`text“`Welcome to “`SleekFlow“`

WhatsApp Business Template Message variables

When submitting a text-based template message for approval, you can add unique variables to personalize messages to your customers. Do note that each template message needs to contain at least one variable.

The variables are represented by numbered placeholders such as ‘{{x}}’. Each variable can be replaced with text that contains letters, digits, special characters, or spaces. 

However, variables cannot contain the following:

  • New lines

  • Tabulators

  • More than four consecutive spaces

For example, if you want your customer to receive this message:


You would need to submit the following template:


Do note that WhatsApp will not approve templates with floating variables. Floating variables are lines with just variables and do not contain text. Please surround the variables with information so it is clear what kind of data is inserted. 

WhatsApp Business Session Messages or Service Conversations

As mentioned above, there are two types of WhatsApp Business Messages: Template Messages and Session Messages. 

WhatsApp Session Messages, also named Service Conversations, are messages sent and received in response to a user-initiated message.

A conversation starts when a user sends you a message and lasts for 24 hours from the most recently received message. After that 24-hour window, the conversation ends. You can then wait for users to message you, or instead, send a Template Message to invite the user to respond. 

WhatsApp Business API conversation-based pricing 2023

From February 2022 onwards, WhatsApp officially introduced a conversation-based model for the official WhatsApp Business API. No matter if it's Template Messages or Session Messages, they are all charged according to the number of conversations, depending on if the message is business-initiated or user-initiated.

Firstly, the starting 1000 user-initiated conversations are free of charge!

Note: user-initiated conversations are also identified as service conversations. Charges for this type of conversation will not apply if your business does not reply to the users.

The pricing for each type of conversation will also follow the country that your business is in:

MarketBusiness-initiated rate for utility conversations (USD)Business-initiated rate for authentication conversations (USD)Business-initiated rate for marketing conversations (USD)User-initiated rate for service conversations (USD)
Hong Kong$ 0.0472$0.0425$ 0.0732$ 0.0224
Singapore$ 0.0472$0.0425$ 0.0732$ 0.0224
Malaysia$ 0.0200$0.0180$ 0.0860$ 0.0220
United States$ 0.0150$0.0135$ 0.0250$ 0.0088
United Kingdom$ 0.0398$0.0358$ 0.0705$ 0.0388

The pricing shown in the table above has been updated according to Meta's latest pricing structure from June 2023.

To understand further how conversation-based pricing works, check out our blog on WhatsApp Business API pricing.

WhatsApp Pricing Calculator

We understand that the maths can get a bit confusing, that's why we have the WhatsApp Pricing Calculator for you to calculate your messaging costs!

WhatsApp Pricing Calculator

Too complicated? Let us estimate your budget for WhatsApp Business API.

Interactive messages

WhatsApp offers interactive messages to encourage customer engagement. They provide the users with simpler options to communicate the products or services they need from your business.

Remember how back in our school days when we used to prefer multiple-choice questions over long-answer questions for exams? The same goes for this!

This fully explains why interactive messages tend to have significantly higher response rates and conversions compared to informational, text-based messages.

WhatsApp Business API interactive messages

WhatsApp List Messages

WhatsApp enables businesses to engage customers using list messages with up to 10 options, making the message flow simple, consistent, and efficient.

WhatsApp list messages

WhatsApp chat buttons

Up to 3 options can be provided for the users. This means that business users can design 3 buttons for the customers to select. It can even be combined with list messages when customizing an interactive message flow!

An important note when using interactive messages is that they can only be sent within 24 hours after the user-initiated message is sent. Also, the customers will not be able to select more than one option at a time, but they will be able to return to previous text messages.

It all depends on how you set up the buttons to make it fun for your customers!

WhatsApp Broadcast

WhatsApp Broadcast message template with automation software using web api

With the WhatsApp broadcasting function, businesses can send out mass, but personalized messages to their customers to offer details about events or promotions.

Undoubtedly, this saves businesses a lot of time as marketers will no longer have to copy and paste each text individually while ensuring the customer’s name is spelled correctly!

For example, logistic firms can use this function to notify their customers of deliveries, educational firms can also use this to send out seat confirmations for seminars, and supermarkets can use this to send out flash promotions.

SleekFlow has opened up a new channel for us to conduct marketing and broadcasting effectively.

Wilfred Belsey

Wilfred Belsey

Head of Retention & CX, Nutrition Kitchen

Find out how Nutrition Kitchen increases sales using the WhatsApp Broadcast feature.

Multiple logins

Multiple agent API

Gone are the days when customer support agents need to fight for the one phone with the WhatsApp Business App installed!

With the WhatsApp Business API, multiple agents can access the businesses’ WhatsApp phone numbers at the same time.

Hence, this not only allows more customer service agents to serve more customers at a time but also allows cross-functional team collaboration.


SleekFlow solution for Chatbot API with WhatsApp for websites

For the purpose of efficiency, use a chatbot! Generally, chatbots can be used to cut down the amount of time used for customer service by screening the customer’s needs.

Following this, the customer will then be routed to the relevant department automatically to get the best answers to their queries.

Follow our step-by-step guide to learn how to set up WhatsApp chatbot for your business.

Automated messaging rules

Automate WhatsApp messages on SleekFlow

Through WhatsApp Business API, businesses can automate FAQs, broadcast messages, and interactive messages and automatically assign incoming chats to various agents based on specific rules.

This will markedly improve team efficiency as customer service agents can spend more time attending to customer needs instead of manually assigning chats.

Furthermore, with SleekFlow, chats can also be automatically reassigned to a different agent if the initial agent’s status has been set to “away”.

This in turn reduces the customer’s waiting time while ensuring that the customer service agents have sufficient breaks and rest time.

Lead generation tools

Lead generation tools

Next, businesses can make their WhatsApp number more accessible by adding it to a live chat widget on their websites.

As customers enjoy the convenience, lead generation rates may increase as more conversations are launched by clicking on the WhatsApp icon on the widget.

You can also monitor your customers' browsing activities to find out which webpage is performing the best.

Install a live chat widget to your website for free with SleekFlow.

WhatsApp catalog

WhatsApp menu and payment using whatsapp web api

With WhatsApp Business API, your customers can even shop in the chat! This feature can encourage impulse shopping, and on top of that, offer consumers a faster, more efficient, and coherent buyer's journey. As they share their positive experience with others, you'll get marketing for free too!

SleekFlow inbox - payment Link feature

From social to order and payment, the in-chat shopping experience becomes frictionless with the WhatsApp Business API. Simply generate a payment link for your customers to pay directly in the chat. The fewer the steps, the more likely it is for the consumers to buy more.

Integrated customer profile

integrations available with customer messaging platform

Since WhatsApp has become the preferred communication channel for most, many customers tend to like using WhatsApp.

Customer details gathered from other platforms, including the physical store, e-commerce websites, or social media can be combined into a single profile. You can then use the information for your WhatsApp broadcasting or customer support.

Integrating various messaging channels as well as add a myriad of CRM software such as the Salesforce CRM, HubSpot CRM or even your calendar, payment gateway, task management, etc. will also help you attend to your WhatsApp customers with high accuracy and efficiency.

Essentially, SleekFlow has everything you need to please your customers!

Unleash your WhatsApp Business potential today!

Who should consider using WhatsApp Business API?

The useful functions of the WhatsApp Business API are extremely attractive, but it is still vital for business owners to consider the suitability of its usage based on their working industry.

1. Retail

Iphone 13 Pro inquiry on WhatsApp Official

The sale of goods and services directly to consumers makes the retail industry a rather fast-moving sector in the world of businesses. As digital technology drives customers towards online shopping and inquiries, O2O retail techniques are no longer an unfamiliar option to most retailers.

For retail businesses, a large number of daily incoming messages from customers can be quite overwhelming and time-consuming to manage. This makes WhatsApp Business API the most appropriate solution as it allows for automation, chatbot, and broadcasting, while at the same time making the account appear more trustable and reliable.

Retail selling is all about communication. The messaging data generated by SleekFlow is critical for us to drive lasting sales performance.

Yonnie Wong

Senior Marketing Manager of bossini

See how the renowned fashion retailer, bossini, generates sales for their O2O campaigns with the WhatsApp Business API via SleekFlow.

2. Automotive

Car servicing appointment on WhatsApp Official

Before going for a test drive, customers are bound to acquire information about the vehicle that they are interested in. If the customers call in and the line is constantly busy, it may result in a massive loss of leads over time. In this case, the list messages and reply buttons on WhatsApp Business API are definitely useful to save manpower in attending to these new and potential customers.

Also, WhatsApp Business API will be able to ease the procedures of scheduling and making appointments as they progress, thus improving customer satisfaction.

Read the success story of Automate, a car servicing platform that incorporated WhatsApp into their native mobile app with SleekFlow's Public API.

3. Telecommunication

Telecom customer support on WhatsApp Official

Telecom service providers almost always receive millions of inquiries every day. Most of the time, these customers desire an immediate, personalized response, taking a toll on the customer service team.

Similarly, these challenges of dealing with complex operational processes and related problems can be dealt with by using WhatsApp Business API.

4. Fintech

Fintech product demo booking on WhatsApp Official

Blooming e-commerce and the demand for fast, secured digital payments are propelling the fintech revolution. With the integration of advanced technologies including AI, data science, and more, businesses in the field surely understand the importance of having a stable and efficient chat management platform.

The WhatsApp Business API will be a fine addition to their deployment of various sophisticated tools for decreasing the response time of messages while delivering financial services of the utmost quality, security, and privacy.

Explore how AQUMON leads the fintech industry with WhatsApp Business API on SleekFlow.

5. Human resources

HR communication on WhatsApp Official

Human resources are all about managing human capital and guiding each individual to their fullest potential. The amount of communication and interaction on top of other paperwork and tasks can cause an unbearable volume of workload. Not to mention that the questions from employees or operational procedures are often repetitive.

This problem can no doubt be solved effortlessly using the WhatsApp Business API. Why repeat the excessive steps when the time can be utilized more efficiently with other duties?

How to create a WhatsApp Business API account?

Firstly, businesses will need to choose a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP). These providers will process the business’ WhatsApp Business accounts and Template Messages by sending relevant information to WhatsApp.

To get the most out of WhatsApp Business API/WhatsApp Business Platform, Meta strongly encourages businesses to choose an official WhatsApp BSP or WhatsApp Business Solution Partner. Understandably, with so many BSPs for WhatsApp on the market, it might get a little overwhelming.

Here's why you should choose SleekFlow as the WhatsApp BSP:

  • Best pricing for businesses with a large volume of messages

Other than the conversation fees charged by Meta, businesses will be required to pay a subscription fee or provider fee to the WhatsApp BSP. SleekFlow offers a reasonable price according to your needs.

Looking to use the WhatsApp Business API without subscribing to SleekFlow? Check out our programmable Messaging API.

  • Cloud API to scale your WhatsApp broadcasting campaigns

SleekFlow uses the Cloud API, hosted by Meta, which supports 80 MPS (messaging per second) and up to 500 when requested.

  • Stability of connection

Having your WhatsApp Business accounts disconnected is the last thing you want for your business. It can bring unhappy customers when messages are missed or fail to send. With SleekFlow as the authorized WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, you don't have to worry about errors caused by failed HTTP requests as SleekFlow uses the powerful, secure, and reliable resources provided by Meta.

  • Easy onboarding of WhatsApp Business accounts in 3 minutes

SleekFlow works closely with Meta's WhatsApp team to make sure that customers can access the latest WhatsApp Business features as soon as possible. Now, it only takes 3 minutes to complete the onboarding process with SleekFlow!

  • Quick access to new WhatsApp Business features

As SleekFlow's WhatsApp Business API user, you will be the first to access upcoming features such as Product Messages, Message Reactions, Message Replies, and more.

There are also powerful integrations, such as the HubSpot integration, where you can incorporate WhatsApp broadcast messages into your HubSpot Workflows! (launching in 2023)

If SleekFlow is not what you need, there are also other providers for WhatsApp Business API, such as 360 Dialog and Twilio, and Chat API* which provides the third-party WhatsApp Business API.

Find out more about the comparison between the official WhatsApp Business API and Chat API* here.

*Chat API is no longer in service since June 2022 due to Meta's policy change. Learn how to apply for the official WhatsApp Business API with our guide here.

Getting started with WhatsApp Business API through SleekFlow

Upon deciding to incorporate the all-mighty WhatsApp Business API, businesses will then have to choose a platform solution that best fits their needs. Businesses who are looking for a holistic sales-accelerating customer experience platform can consider using SleekFlow!

SleekFlow has user-friendly web and mobile versions that integrate well with the WhatsApp Business API and other messaging apps. In addition, SleekFlow also has added capabilities of integrating with your existing CRM stacks to ensure a smooth onboarding process and experience. There will be more amazing features to come too!

Make SleekFlow your preferred choice for your WhatsApp Business API. Follow through our detailed step-by-step guide to apply for your very own WhatsApp official account.

Too much to handle? Talk to our experts and let them guide you through the entire process.

How Singtel leverages WhatsApp Business to drive customer experience

Across social media, news, blogs, and more, customers have been known to prefer texting businesses as compared to emails or calls. To match the pace of these contemporary trends, Singtel has taken full advantage of WhatsApp Business by implementing many, if not all of the features to boost the level of customer satisfaction.

Below are some main aspects or features of WhatsApp Business API that have offered great assistance to Singtel:

  • Automated workflow with the chatbot on WhatsApp Business

  • Multi-logins for multi-user management

  • Enhanced customer experience

Singtel, as a prominent industry leader, has redefined client-facing roles using WhatsApp Business API as the key to driving business growth. As customer relationship holds great importance in a thriving business, their decision to dive deep into social commerce serves as a great reference for all.

Therefore, if your business has yet to explore the powerful potential of conversational commerce, now's probably a good time!

Have a customized function in mind? Talk to our customer success teams!

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