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WhatsApp Overview

JQ Lee Updated by JQ Lee

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook. As of February 2019, WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion active users in over 180 countries.

WhatsApp Logo

With the release of WhatsApp Cloud API, WhatsApp allow companies to connect directly to their API or create business accounts on their own. To create a WhatsApp Cloud API account you'll need to create your own Facebook App in order to use WhatsApp Cloud API.

Alternatively, you can create a WhatsApp Business API account you'll need to apply through a WhatsApp Partner. Once a WhatsApp Partner has approved and provisioned your WhatsApp Business API account with a phone number you may connect it to the respond.io platform and manage WhatsApp messages just like any other channel.

WhatsApp API Channels Options

Here are the WhatsApp API Channels respond.io supports on the platform.

Provider

Use Case

Pricing Model

Billing Cycle

Min. Monthly Charge

^Pay per message markups

API Account Application

Meta WhatsApp Cloud API

Production

Per Message

Monthly

< $1*

No

Sign Up

360dialog WhatsApp

Production

Per Month

Monthly

$5

No

Sign Up

Twilio WhatsApp

Production

Per Message

Monthly

< $1*

Yes

Sign Up

MessageBird WhatsApp

Production

Message Bundle

Annually

$50

Yes

Sign Up

Vonage WhatsApp

Production

Active Users

Enterprise

Enterprise

Yes

Sign Up

^Some WhatsApp Partners charge a markup message fee on top of the WhatsApp conversation pricing. Learn more about WhatsApp API pricing here.

*Based on monthly usage.

Messaging Window

WhatsApp API has a messaging window of 24 hours in which you are allowed to reply to customers with any content. After 24 hours, you will need to send a Template Message in order to send a reply to the customer.

The 24 hours messaging window is applicable to the following WhatsApp Channels:

WhatsApp Interactive Message

Due to the partners' limitations, WhatsApp Interactive Message is only supported by 360dialog as of now.

In respond.io, WhatsApp Interactive Message is used when sending a multiple choice question from a survey or quick replies using Dialogflow.

When the question or message has fewer or equal to 3 options, WhatsApp Quick Replies will be used to display the options.

WhatsApp Quick Replies Button

Otherwise, WhatsApp List Messages will be used to display the options not exceeding the maximum limit of 10.

WhatsApp List Messages Button
WhatsApp List Messages Expanded List Sample

Broadcast Capabilities

Tip: Learn more about how to send a broadcast here.

Due to the Messaging Window, only approved Template Messages are allowed for broadcasts.

The number of messages businesses are allowed to send are limited according to tier; the free tier is limited to 1000 messages per month. Broadcast messages above that limit are charged at the conversation-based rate for business-initiated messages.

In addition to that, the number of business-initiated messages that can be sent per day depends on a business’s phone number status and quality rating.

WhatsApp API providers may impose additional message limits and charges. For more details see:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get WhatsApp Business with multiple users?

You need to connect a WhatsApp Business API account to respond.io. WhatsApp Business is two products:

📱 WhatsApp Business App - one phone + 4 additional devices.

⚙️ WhatsApp Business API - for companies with teams needing to use WhatsApp on more than 5 devices.

If you want to learn about the difference between these accounts, you can check our video.

How much does a WhatsApp Business API account cost?

The price you pay for WhatsApp Business API via a WhatsApp Partner has two components:

  • The fee charged by WhatsApp
  • The fee charged by the WhatsApp Partner

Different WhatsApp Partners have different pricing models:

  • Set-up fee
  • Monthly fee
  • Messaging fee

You can compare the prices between WhatsApp Partners here.

Are there any restrictions to the type of Messages that I can send to my Contacts?

WhatsApp Business API has 2 types of messages:

Session Messages: Whenever a contact sends an incoming message to your number, a timer is set. You have 24 hours to send outgoing messages to that user without any restrictions.

Template Messages: After the 24 hours of the session message is finished, you can only send a pre-approved template by WhatsApp to encourage your contact to resume the conversation and you can keep sending session messages. Advertising, marketing, or promotional messages are not permitted as Template Messages. For a more comprehensive breakdown, please refer to their Message Templates Guidelines.

Can I use WhatsApp Groups with WhatsApp API?

Group Messages are not supported by WhatsApp Business API. Facebook has deprecated the development of this feature.

Can I receive WhatsApp Calls with WhatsApp API?

WhatsApp calls are not supported by WhatsApp Business API.

Are there any restrictions placed on phone number registration for WhatsApp Business API?

To register for WhatsApp Business API:

  • The phone number must be able to receive voice calls or SMS
  • The phone number must not have been connected to WhatsApp Business API before.

Do note that once a phone number has been registered with WhatsApp Business API, it cannot be used for WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp personal app. A phone number can be upgraded to WhatsApp Business API but not downgraded.

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