The year 2020 is slowly, but surely coming to an end and it’s time to review what we have achieved. In particular, we would like to compare official ways of using WhatsApp with unofficial solutions and see what has changed here by the end of 2020. The article will be interesting for those who want to learn about the difference between WhatsApp business App, WhatsApp business API, and other WhatsApp APIs, and evaluate the risks and challenges of each of the tools.
A Bit of History
Initially, WhatsApp, unlike, say, Telegram, kept their API closed, which was why developers could not offer programming solutions for WhatsApp — there were neither integrations with CRM or ERP systems nor popular chatbots. In those misty times, programmers created or looked for unofficial gateways that provided access to WhatsApp API. Those solutions can still be found on Github. The problem with using those libraries is that, from time to time, WhatsApp issues updates which is why the solutions become obsolete and phone numbers get banned almost immediately.
As time went by, businesses began to feel the need for WhatsApp more and more. The messaging format is very convenient for clients and, with its 1.7 billion users, WhatsApp has become the most popular messenger. We asked the opinion of many marketing specialists as to why WhatsApp was so popular, and they all gave about the same answer: “I’m not sure why but people like it.” It seems that WhatsApp has already gained a critical mass of users that will help to keep it going.
Anyway, where there is demand, there will be supply. At the moment, we see a rise in companies who offer their APIs for WhatsApp. Most of them use the WhatsApp WEB protocol (we will expand on protocols below). Naturally, Chat API offers a WhatsApp API, too. We developed our solution in 2015 when we worked at integration with amoCRM. We have always positioned it as a tool for businesses and software developers. We should note, however, that we are against spamming or any other malicious activity.
And, of course, we are against spam and other abuses.
In 2017, WhatsApp released its official API. At first, during the test period, the API was only available to a few major companies. Since then, the number of organizations that have access to the WhatsApp official API has increased. To get the access, businesses must make an agreement with WhatsApp’s official partners and follow a set of WhatsApp’s current regulations. The latter imply a lot of limitations that you can find listed in the table below. To see the list of current WhatsApp’s official partners, go to https://www.facebook.com/business/partner-directory/search?solution_type=messaging. This information is important, as there has been a rise in companies that mislead their clients into thinking that they are WhatsApp’s official partners.
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 monthly payment for using the official WhatsApp API varies from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The price does not include the connecting cost and the cost of individual WhatsApp messages. Besides, since the rates are managed by WhatsApp itself, it is not always possible for agents to tailor them to your individual needs. To learn more about the prices, go to the developer’s official website: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/whatsapp/pricing#usd
To connect to the official API, businesses must have a message turnover of at least 15,000 per month which may be too many for some companies.
WhatsApp does not partner with every business. For example, while finances and real estate are interesting for it, companies selling vitamins or drugs do not get approved by the messenger.
Dealing with WhatsApp’s official representatives to obtain their “white” API is an extremely energy-consuming procedure. Gathering and putting in order various documents, going through verification processes, creating and approving of templates — all of this may take a lot of your time and still result in denying you the access. Yes, unfortunately, this scenario is probable, too.
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 unofficial APIs 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.
Now that we have covered the most vital points, it is time to move on to the most interesting part, that is, pure analytics, and compare both ways of using WhatsApp.
Let’s begin with the advantages of Chat API
|Chat API||Business API|
|You can connect any personal or work phone numbers.||The solution connects only to new phone numbers.|
|You can connect your phone number immediately after you registered it, but it’s important to follow our recommendations.||For a phone number to be connected, it must be in use for at least 3 to 4 weeks.|
|Available for all categories of customers.||Currently available only for medium and large companies.|
|You can send any kind of content (that does not violate the law).||Message templates must be pre-approved.|
|Physically unlimited messaging for a fixed fee (from $15 per month).||The price per message equals the price per SMS and may reach ~0.07$ depending on the country.|
|Easy registration, no special requirements.||Strict adherence to the rules and a complex integration process.|
|A simple JSON API and Webhooks. The integration process takes 10 minutes and requires only a phone.||Requires a dedicated server and complex system architecture. The integration process takes a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks.|
|Permission is not required, you can write first.||You will need subscribers’ consent to receive messages.|
|You can start using the API right away.||To get connected to the API, you will have to undergo a long bureaucratic process that may take over a month.|
|There is no limit to phone numbers you can connect.||You can only connect one phone number per a confirmed business.|
|Direct 24 x 7 customer support via email and chats.||Limited customer support (paid support via solution partners).|
|Any changes or integrations are possible.||You cannot change or add functionality.|
|You can choose any name for your account.||The name of your account must coincide with the name of your business and cannot be changed.|
|The API works worldwide.||You cannot use the WhatsApp API in some territories (like the Crimea, Iran, etc.)|
Now let us move on to the disadvantages
|Chat API||Business API|
|The scalability depends on how long you have been using your account. At first, we recommend that you send a maximum of 5 to 20 messages per minute.||High scalability: 10 messages per second by default.|
|You have to depend on your phone connection.||Your phone connection is not important.|
|The only way to add contacts on your phone is manual.||The ability to automatically add and delete contacts.|
|No verified badge.||A verified badge for your business account.|
|Standard blocking algorithms.||Loyal blocking algorithms.|
|Your phone must have a stable internet connection.||There is no need for your phone to be connected to the internet.|
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.