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ChatAPI and Twilio

Whatsup, WhatsApp!

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 “Which WhatsApp Business provider should I choose?”

This is especially key for companies in the services, e-commerce and social commerce space. For these businesses, seamless, personalised customer service will definitely give you an edge above the rest.


WhatsApp Business: Chat API and Twilio

Here’s an overview of the difference between both Chat API and Twilio:

chat api vs twilio overall comparison

In this article, we will do a deep-dive into two WhatsApp Business providers, Chat API and Twilio.

We will highlight their similarities and differences so that you can make an informed decision on which suits your needs best!

Chat API is third-party WhatsApp Provider designed 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 is a developer platform for communications and an official WhatsApp Business provider. The Twilio API can be used by software teams to add capabilities like voice, video, and messaging to their applications.

As such, Chat API suits smaller companies that require basic WhatsApp Business functionalities while Twilio fits large enterprises that require better performance stability.

Let’s take a look at their differences!


1. Third-Party vs Official

We’ve summed up how the different provider status impacts your usage in the table below:

Chat API and Twilio 1

As shown above, Chat API is a third-party WhatsApp Business provider.

Thus, while there is no limitation on the type of content and materials you can send to your customers, it does not function on the same level as official WhatsApp Business providers such as Twilio.

As mentioned earlier, Twilio is an official WhatsApp Business provider. Therefore, and it has to adhere to guidelines set by WhatsApp.

Hence, businesses need to send Template Messages for approval being they can be used. This ensures that customers are not being spammed by promotional messages.

Next, Chat API has a daily cap of 6000 messages that can be sent out every day. In addition, each message will be sent out in intervals of 5 seconds. This reduces the chances of WhatsApp Business accounts being reported as spam and blocked. However, do take note that both Twilio and Chat API should not be used to spam users that you have no prior contact with.

Conversely, Twilio delivers all broadcast messages instantly and does 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. However, these functions are currently not available when using Twilio.

That being said, businesses can obtain the green Verified Badge as Twilio is an official WhatsApp Business provider! Doing so allows businesses to establish trust with customers from the first point of contact. Contrarily, this function is not available on Chat API as it is a third-party provider.


2. Template & Session Messages

Now, you’d probably be thinking, what’s a “Template Message”?

Only official WhatsApp Business Providers, such as 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 has 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:

Templatetext

You would need to submit the following template for approval:

templateexample

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!


3. Phone Number & Connectivity

Moving on! As we all know, a phone number is required to run WhatsApp and both send and receive messages.

Chat API and Twilio 2

Businesses can use an existing phone number to run WhatsApp Business on Chat API, but a Twilio Virtual Number is required to use Twilio’s WhatsApp API.

Undeniably, using an existing number to run WhatsApp Business sounds convenient – and it is! However, the WhatsApp Business app needs to remain consistently online to ensure that Chat API works properly.

That being said, unlike Chat API, Twilio’s WhatsApp Business API 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.


 4. Fees and Pricing

After hearing so much about Chat API and Twilio, how much do they cost? 

Chat API and Twilio 3

As seen from the table above, businesses can start using Chat API with a USD $29 monthly fee. On the other hand, Twilio’s total monthly cost varies depending on the businesses’ usage.

To start using Twilio’s WhatsApp API, businesses need to apply for a Twilio virtual number and price of the virtual number varies depending on the country. Check out how much a Twilio virtual number costs in your country 部落格。.

For example, a Hong Kong number from Twilio that includes voice and SMS capabilities cost USD$15. On the other hand, a Hong Kong number from Twilio that with only voice capabilities cost USD$6.

Thankfully, both types of Twilio 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.

As Chat API does not differentiate between Template and Session Messages, all messages are treated the same way and are not chargeable.

In addition, both Chat API and Twilio allows users to send the message using SMS in the event where the WhatsApp message is not delivered. To learn more about how to integrate SMS with SleekFlow through with Twilio, please check our guide


5. Ease of Onboarding

Chat API and Twilio 4

To use Chat API:

First, businesses need to download the WhatsApp Business app from the iOS 或 Android Store.

Then, businesses need to scan the generated QR code with the installed WhatsApp Business app. This connects the app with Chat API and completes the setup.

To use Twilio:

First, businesses need to create an account in the Twilio console and apply for a virtual phone number. Then, submit 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, 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 they can be sent out and the approval process usually takes around 1 to 2 days.


 6. Usage

Chat API and Twilio 5

For businesses that want to use WhatsApp for customer support or add a chatbot to your workflow, Twilio could be a good option.

However, if businesses want to use WhatsApp to send campaigns and engage with users, or allow the sales team to proactively reach clients, Chat API is the only choice.

As such, we recommend Chat API for smaller companies that require basic WhatsApp Business functionalities and Twilio for large enterprises for better performance stability.


 7. Applying for a WhatsApp Business API account

Want to sign up for a WhatsApp Business API account but don’t know where or how to get started? Fret not, simply click the “Apply Now” button below and our team at SleekFlow will help you to apply for an Official WhatsApp Business account for free!

 


 Final Verdict

Chat API and Twilio both allow you to send WhatsApp messages using SleekFlow, an omni-channel 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:

Revamped Comparison

 


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