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WhatsApp Cloud API: The ultimate set-up guide

WhatsApp Cloud API

In May 2022, Meta announced the new cloud-hosted version of WhatsApp Business API. The release of WhatsApp Cloud API to all businesses means enterprises now have two ways to send and receive messages at scale, either by working with one of WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs) or accessing the API service directly from Meta. This is a great way to have WhatsApp Business API for developers.

What is WhatsApp Cloud API?

WhatsApp Cloud API offers similar features to the WhatsApp Business API (also known as on-premise API). It is designed for medium and large businesses to:

  • connect with thousands of customers via agents or bots

  • integrate WhatsApp with CRM and e-commerce solutions 

  • send bulk WhatsApp messages

  • sell and get paid on WhatsApp, etc.

The hosting type is the main difference between WhatsApp Cloud API and on-premise API.

Previously, businesses could only use a BSP that provided on-premise API (e.g., 360dialog, Twilio) to get WhatsApp API. Now, BSPs can choose to offer the WhatsApp Cloud API hosted by Meta.

Companies can get it from a BSP that provides WhatsApp Cloud API (e.g., SleekFlow) or build their own business messaging tools with in-house developer resources.

Some good-to-know back-end differences that do not affect the user experience:

WhatsApp Cloud API

WhatsApp Business API/On-Premise API

Hosting

Meta

BSP’s server

How to get the API

Go through a BSP that provides Cloud API (e.g.: SleekFlow) OR; Directly access the Cloud API on Meta for Developers

Go through a BSP that provides on-premise API (e.g.: 360dialog, Twilio)

Maintenance

Software upgrades and new features are developed by Meta and will be automatically available to businesses on the Cloud API.

BSP will perform API software upgrades periodically. New features performed by Meta may take a while to become available to all businesses.

API Protocol

Graph API

On-Premises REST API

Throughput of messages per second (MPS)

80 MPS by default; 500 MPS by request

250 MPS

So which one should you get? Meta recommended that most businesses use the Cloud API for easy implementation and maintenance.

SleekFlow is a Meta partner for business messaging

Caption: SleekFlow is now an official Meta Partner for business messaging.


How to get WhatsApp Cloud API?

There are two ways to sign up for the Meta WhatsApp Cloud API, through the Embedded Signup provided by any WhatsApp BSP or by setting up an account on Meta for Developers.

Embedded Signup through BSP

Meta for Developers

Method

Register an account on the BSP platform

Create a Meta App

Developer resources

Steps

Connect to Facebook Business Manager; Create WhatsApp Business Accounts (WABA); Verify phone number

Set up developer assets and platform access; Send a test message; Configure a webhook; Receive a test message; Create WhatsApp Business Accounts (WABA); Verify phone number

Onboarding Session

A single flow

Multiple fragmented workflows

Onboarding time

Less than 5 minutes

Hours

1. WhatsApp BSP: No-coding Embedded Signup

If you sign up through WhatsApp BSP’s website, you can get on board with a streamlined signup process. There are only 3-5 steps, and you do not have to leave the site. 

You can start messaging customers immediately and reach up to 250 unique contacts in a 24-hour period. Upon verifying your Facebook Business Manager account, you can increase your messaging limit and send up to 100,000 messages daily. 

Below is an example of the Embedded Signup process provided by a WhatsApp BSP,  SleekFlow:

SleekFlow Cloud API embedded sign up

2. Meta for Developers: multiple fragmented workflows

The creation of a Meta app requires software engineering skills. You will need to perform API calls to send and receive messages and create a webhook endpoint to receive message notifications. 

You will need to switch between Meta for Developer, your webhook server (e.g., Glitch), and the WhatsApp application for testing. 

Meta does not allow independent software vendors to develop the WhatsApp Cloud API on behalf of clients. Failure to comply with WhatsApp's Commerce Policy may result in suspension or termination of access to the API.

Business Solution Provider (BSP)

Independent Software Vendor (ISV)

Authorized by Meta

Listing on Meta Partner Directory


How to use WhatsApp Cloud API?

Like the WhatsApp Business API, the WhatsApp Cloud API does not have an interface. Some WhatsApp BSPs offer bundle services - if you sign up through a BSP like SleekFlow, you will get access to a fully-developed messaging platform. 

A WhatsApp BSP can offer more than allowing you to send and receive messages. You can do a message blast, automate order confirmations, route conversations to specific agents, share product catalogs, get paid via WhatsApp, etc.

WhatsApp BSP vs Cloud APi

Alternatively, you would need to hire a team of developers to build an intuitive user interface. The development process can involve multiple stages, such as prototyping, designing, coding, testing, and deployment. In addition, ongoing maintenance are necessary to ensure that the messaging tool continue to function properly and provide a positive user experience.


Top benefits of using a WhatsApp Business solution via WhatsApp BSPs

WhatsApp BSP vs Cloud API

1. Direct support from the Meta team

Software changes happen quickly. At some point, you will be running into problems using the WhatsApp Cloud API. Just to name a few:

  • Messages are sent but not delivered

  • Temporarily blocked for policy violation

  • API service downtime

  • Unapproved message templates

  • Payment failure

  • Messaging limit issues

  • Official Business Account (green tick verification) request is rejected

WhatsApp BSPs know the ins and outs of the WhatsApp Business Platform and WhatsApp Cloud API. At SleekFlow, we can escalate unresolved issues to Meta, and the Meta team will help you directly as an end user. This is in addition to providing a timely and personal support in the following aspects:

  • Technical integration: BSP can assist businesses in integrating the WhatsApp Business API with their existing app/systems and help troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise during the onboarding process.

  • Green tick verification: BSP can provide guidance on compliance with WhatsApp's policies and regulations, including ensuring that the business meets WhatsApp's business verification requirements to obtain the green tick badge.

  • Localized expertise: BSP with local offices provide faster support and resolve issues more quickly. This is because they have a better understanding of the local business environment, and they know the go-to person within the local Meta team to get things sorted out.

In contrast, there is relatively limited support from Meta by Developers, including documentation, guidelines, and community forum. Raising a support ticket is not an option.

With a WhatsApp BSP like SleekFlow

Without WhatsApp BSPs

Personal support

Priority support with predefined SLAs and escalation path (average response < 3h)

Escalation path to Meta after investigation

Independent software vendors cannot resolve any issues related to the WhatsApp Cloud API. Businesses must troubleshoot on the Meta by Developer platform when facing API connectivity issues.

2. Volume-based messaging discounts

Selected and verified by Meta, a WhatsApp BSP has an established partnership with Meta. Some WhatsApp BSPs would have exclusive access to incentive programs. For example, SleekFlow is able to get a volume-based discount for enterprise customers.

If you expect to send more than 200,000 messages a month, SleekFlow can negotiate a discount on messaging fees with Meta on behalf of you.

3. Access to Beta features

BSPs have access to the latest product roadmap for WhatsApp and are often invited to test new features and provide feedback to Meta. This means that customers who work with a BSP can be among the first to access new features and test them in their own business operations.

By getting early access to beta features, you will be able to offer new services or capabilities to your customers before your competitors. You can also provide feedback to the BSP and Meta to help shape the development of new features.

4. Omnichannel messaging API solution

WhatsApp BSP offers value-added services that go beyond simply providing access to the WhatsApp Business API.

In SleekFlow, we integrate the WhatsApp Business API with other messaging channels to help you create an omnichannel customer experience effortlessly.

For example, you could integrate the WhatsApp Business API with Facebook Messenger, Telegram, LINE, WeChat etc. This would allow customers to interact with you on the channel that is most convenient for them. If a message is not delivered on WhatsApp due to technical issues, you can set up a fallback channel (such as SMS) to ensure that the message is still delivered to the customer on time.


Industry-specific WhatsApp Business solutions on SleekFlow

Would you like to connect WhatsApp to the rest of your technology stacks, such as e-commerce solutions, O2O platforms, and customer service systems? Working with a WhatsApp BSP, you can take advantage of their industry knowledge for specific use cases. 

In SleekFlow, we customize the WhatsApp Business solution for different industries, including but not limited to retail, automotive, e-commerce, travel, finance, telecom, beauty & wellness, real estate, education, logistics, and service providers. Businesses can consult a social commerce expert to identify pain points and customize the messaging strategy tailored to their needs. Based on our experience working with more than 5,000 enterprises globally, we have a lot of use cases for sharing.

WhatsApp Cloud API  for ecommerce

Is WhatsApp Cloud API free?

Charges will be applied for businesses who want to access WhatsApp Cloud API on the Meta by Developer platform. You will need to pay for the conversation-based pricing. The price varies depending on your customer’s country code and who initiates the conversation.

Market

Business-initiated conversation (USD)

Customer-initiated conversation (USD)

Hong Kong

$ 0.0745

$ 0.0224

Singapore

$ 0.0745

$ 0.0224

Malaysia

$ 0.0732

$ 0.0220

Indonesia

$ 0.0316

$ 0.0190

Brazil

$ 0.0500

$ 0.0300

UAE

$ 0.0316

$ 0.0190

United Kingdom

$ 0.0647

$ 0.0388

*Meta introduced a new pricing structure for WhatsApp conversations which will commence in June 2023:

Market

Business-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

You will also be charged a monthly license fee for the WhatsApp Cloud API obtained from a WhatsApp BSP. For example, SleekFlow charges US$ 15 per hosted number. Considering how working with a BSP can save significant time and cost to invest in infrastructure and hire-in house developers, it is a good deal.

Register a new phone number and get the Meta WhatsApp Cloud API on SleekFlow now.

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