The year 2021 is slowly but surely coming to an end, and we continue our good tradition of summing up the results of the year, analyzing the main innovations from Facebook and changes in the WhatsApp API.
If you are interested in a brief excerpt of the main differences between the WhatsApp Business API and the Chat API, then you can find it in the table at the end of the article.The rest of the material is devoted to a detailed analysis of the differences between the WhatsApp Business App, WhatsApp Business API, Chat API and other available WhatsApp APIs, as well as an assessment of risks and possible difficulties when choosing a suitable tool for business.
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A Bit of History
Initially, WhatsApp, unlike other messengers, kept its API closed. That is, the developers did not have the opportunity to link their software solutions with the messenger. For example, to integrate WhatsApp with CRM\ERP systems or automate communication with customers through a chat bot. Facebook (the company bought WhatsApp in October 2014) explained this by the desire to protect users from unnecessary spam and mailings, to make the messenger's info space more secure. By the way, such a leitmotif of Facebook's policy has been preserved to this day, many of the company's decisions are justified by these principles.
However, the lack of open access to the API did not stop enthusiastic developers from finding ways to optimize their work with the messenger. Self-written gateways were created for integrations with WhatsApp based, as a rule, on WhatsApp WEB protocols.
Some solutions were successful, some were not very good, for example, you can still find libraries for integration with WhatsApp on Github, which are quickly becoming outdated due to messenger updates. Other solutions did not forget about updates, but the security of the number from a possible ban was their weak point. Part of the work of the Chat API is also based on the work of the WhatsApp WEB protocols, while we have always paid special attention to the security of the number, needless to say, we are also against spam and unwanted mailings.
With the growing popularity of the messenger, the interest of business in working with it also grew. Recall that Facebook positioned WhatsApp as a free messenger protected from commercial mailings, which is partly why the introduction of tools for business was postponed - the opening of the API required preparation.
In 2017, Facebook announced limited access to the WhatsApp Business API, and only the world's largest brands had the opportunity to test the long-awaited gateway. Since 2018, more and more companies are getting the opportunity to connect to the WhatsApp Business API, and today there is a tendency to simplify the procedure for accessing the WhatsApp Business API, despite the specific features of working with the Facebook solution, which we analyze in the table below.
As for our solution, we developed the Chat API in 2015, while integrating WhatsApp with amoCRM. Since then, we have come a long way, gaining trust and expanding the functionality of the service. At the moment, the Chat API unites more than 10,000 companies and programmers from around the world, processing more than a billion user requests per month. In 2020, Chat API became a partner of the WhatsApp provider and an integrator of the WhatsApp Business API.
What interesting things happened in 2021 and what to expect from 2022?
- The procedure for connecting a number to the WhatsApp Business API through registration with deferred verification has been simplified. Access to the WhatsApp Business API is provided immediately. We wrote more about this in the article about the new way of registration.
- Until the end of 2021, the beta version of the new method of connecting a number without verification with 50 free message templates is being tested.
- At the end of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022, WhatsApp is expected to be transferred to a new system for recording contacts with customers through dialogues, which was tested in Mexico.
How is the WhatsApp Business API connection going today?
Facebook provides access to the WhatsApp Business API through its partners or BSP (Business Solution Provider). You can get acquainted with the list of existing BSPs here.
Not only BSP can connect to WhatsApp Business API, but also BSP partners - API integrators. The cost and the order of connection depend on the pricing policy and additional services of the BSP and the API integrator with which you cooperate. The Chat API, for example, provides exclusive access to the API without additional margins and hidden fees. For more information, see the page about WhatsApp Business API.
What is the difference between the WhatsApp API and the WhatsApp Business API?
WhatsApp API, including the Chat API, was developed at a time when the WhatsApp Business API was not available for businesses and programmers. The WhatsApp API is usually based on the WhatsApp WEB protocols and allows you to automate and optimize communication with users in WhatsApp. To work with the WhatsApp API, it is enough to scan the QR code and you can already start sending messages.
Chat API initially positioned itself as a secure tool for expanding the capabilities of developers and businesses to work with users in WhatsApp. We are against spam and incorrect marketing mailings.
WhatsApp Business API is an interface for optimizing work with WhatsApp from Facebook. Connecting to the WhatsApp Business API is a more complex process associated with business confirmation and verification. In addition, the price for the WhatsApp Business API is higher than for the WhatsApp API, but the undeniable advantage of the WhatsApp Business API is its status as an "official API" and protection from being banned.
Okay. So, would it be right to use the WhatsApp official API?
The answer to this question is not as obvious as it may seem. The first thing you should ask yourself is: what do you need the API for? After all, both options have their upsides and downsides.
The first seemingly obvious upside of WhatsApp API is its “officialness” and safety. However, because of some substantial limitations, not every company can benefit from them. The list of limitations is presented below:
The price. the subscription fee for the WhatsApp Business API can reach from 30 to 1000 $ per month, including the connection fee, sent template messages and additional services. In addition, the price of tariffs is dictated by WhatsApp itself (in currency), and it is not always possible to agree with intermediaries on a more individual approach. More information about prices can be found on the official website of the developer: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/pricing#usd
System restrictions - Facebook artificially restricts and controls the work with the API. This is the right approach, but for users it is associated with a number of restrictions, for example, paid template messages, limiting the number of messages sent, numbers linked to the rating, or possibly blocking unsuccessful, from the point of view of Facebook, messages.
Restrictions on business areas - WhatsApp does not approve of partnerships with certain business sectors. For example, medicine, alcohol, veterinary medicine, part of financial advice may be denied access to the WhatsApp Business API.
Achieving the WhatsApp Business API can be fraught with a number of difficulties. Be prepared that this is an energy and resource-consuming process.
Okay, but it’s still better than to be banned by WhatsApp!
It is true that to have a work phone number banned is every company’s nightmare. No one would like to find themselves in a situation like this. According to WhatsApp’s statistics, every month, the messenger bans around 2,000,000 users for violating their policy.
Of course, this does not mean that WhatsApp API providers do not care about their customers. For example, in the case of our Chat API, we protect our clients by offering them individual IPs, safe authorization, and a system of artificial guards, such as a messaging queue to prevent bulk messaging and escape a ban. There are also systems that allow for emulating phones on a computer so that your activity would not depend on a physical device. Of course, these measures will not help if users ignore WhatsApp’s rules and spam their clients. Even with the official API, you can still be banned for violating WhatsApp’s policy. But if you combine all the safety tools offered by Chat API with an intelligent use of the service, your phone number will be absolutely safe. And if you are more interested in the status of the number or the green check mark, then you definitely should connect to the WhatsApp Business API.
Having analyzed the main points, you can go directly to the most interesting, namely, dry analytics, and compare the two ways of working with WhatsApp.
Let’s begin with the advantages of Chat API
|Chat API||Business API|
|You can connect any personal or work phone numbers.||It only works with new numbers. It is possible to connect existing numbers, but this involves a number of additional procedures.|
|You can connect your phone number immediately after you registered it, but it’s important to follow our recommendations.||The number must be registered and verified. It is important for Facebook to collect information about the business before providing access to the API.|
|Available for all categories of customers.||Only for legal entities. Taking into account the connection costs, then for medium and large businesses.|
|You can send any kind of content (that does not violate the law).||Message templates must be pre-approved. You can't send audio files.|
|Physically unlimited messaging for a fixed fee (from $15 per month).||Paid outgoing template messages. Limit on the number of messages sent per day, linked to the” rating " of the number.|
|Easy registration, no special requirements.||Strict compliance with the rules and a comprehensive implementation process. At the same time, there is a tendency to simplify access to the WhatsApp Business API.|
|Permission is not required, you can write first.||The first outgoing messages are paid. It is necessary to create and approve templates for such messages.|
|You can start using the API right away.||Now instant access to the WhatsApp Business API is possible, but with restrictions that are eliminated when confirming your business.|
|There is no limit to phone numbers you can connect.||Up to 25 phone numbers. Next, an individual agreement is required.|
|Direct 24 x 7 customer support via email and chats.||Support for 24 \ 7 is provided by the Chat API, some issues can be solved only by sending requests to Facebook, this may take additional time.|
|Any changes, ability or integrations are possible.||The inability to influence and add functionality to the service.|
|You can choose any name for your account.||The display name of your account is also verified and approved by Facebook.|
|The API works worldwide.||There are a number of states that are not recognized by the world community, it is impossible to conclude cooperation with Facebook with such countries.|
|You can work for representatives of any business sector (except those prohibited by law).||There are restrictions related to the Facebook policy. It is impossible, for example, to conduct consultations on medical issues. Political organizations must undergo a separate approval with Facebook.|
Advantages of the WhatsApp Business API
|Chat API||Business API|
|The ability to ban numbers from WhatsApp if our recommendations for safe operation are violated.||Ban in exceptional cases. First of all, a drop in the rating of the number or a restriction in the use of individual template messages.|
|You have to depend on your phone connection.||It does not depend on the local connection of the phone.|
|The only way to add contacts on your phone is manual.||Automatic ability to add and delete contacts.|
|No verified badge (green check mark).||A business account can receive a verified icon of the Official Business Account (green check mark), for this you need to submit an application to Facebook.|
|It depends on the period of use of the account. At the beginning, we recommend sending no more than 5-20 messages per minute.||High scalability: by default, 10 messages per second. As the number rating increases, the number of messages sent per second will increase.|
|Your phone must have a stable internet connection.||There is no such need|
That is all we have to say for now. The Chat API team wishes you success and new achievements!
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to get back to you.