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WhatsApp Business API Providers: Official vs Third-Party

WhatsApp Business API Provider

WhatsApp, boasting a massive user base of 2 billion, is a powerful tool for any customer-centric business. But to utilize WhatsApp for business communication, you’ll need a WhatsApp Business API Provider (BSP). But with so many options, selecting the right BSP can feel overwhelming. This guide will help you navigate your choices!

What is a WhatsApp Business API provider?

A WhatsApp Business API Provider is a company authorized by WhatsApp to offer access to the WhatsApp Business API. This API allows businesses to integrate WhatsApp messaging functionalities into their existing systems.

Since May 2022, there are two types of WhatsApp API available: the WhatsApp Cloud API and WhatsApp Business API. These premium solutions enable businesses and enterprises to communicate and convert customers effectively. While the WhatsApp Cloud API can be obtained from WhatsApp BSPs, this blog focuses on the WhatsApp Business API.

How does a WhatsApp Business API Provider help?

By connecting to the WhatsApp Business API through a provider like iMBrace, brands can scale personalized and automated conversations immediately. From marketing messaging and social selling to customer support and personalized notifications, these providers offer various functionalities to enhance customer engagement.

Broadcast messages with WhatsApp

WhatsApp Broadcast offers a powerful tool to reach both potential and existing customers. It goes beyond simple messaging by allowing you to include interactive messages and call-to-action (CTA) buttons, boosting customer engagement.

Streamlining Sales with WhatsApp Business

For some customers, navigating e-commerce websites can be a hassle. Building and optimizing an online buying journey takes valuable time.

WhatsApp Business offers a simpler solution: the WhatsApp catalog and payment links. These features allow customers to browse products in WhatsApp, and pay directly within the familiar chat interface. Leverage this to your brand's advantage by creating a seamless shopping experience directly within WhatsApp.

Customer Service with WhatsApp

Elevate your customer experiences by providing exceptional support where your customers already are. Moreover, you can manage conversations efficiently by utilizing the features such as multiple logins and bots, to streamline support workflows and handle inquiries effectively.

Remind and Update Customers with Personalized Notifications

Auto sends delivery statuses, and other order details to customers. No more copy and paste jobs, at the same time make no mistakes.

Power Up Support with Conversational AI

WhatsApp Chatbot can address frequently asked questions (FAQs), provide instant 24/7 support and free up human agents for more complex issues. Customer information during interactions can also be collected for targeted marketing campaigns, allowing you to personalize your marketing strategies and boost engagement.

WhatsApp Business Providers: Official vs Third-Party

This section highlights the similarities and differences of these three WhatsApp Business Providers: 360dialog, Chat API, and Twilio.

360dialog & Twilio
360dialog and Twilio are official WhatsApp BSPs, offering rich messaging capabilities such as files, images, location, audio, video, links etc.

Chat API
Chat API is a third-party WhatsApp Business API Provider that can create chatbots and integrate WhatsApp with business systems. Although Chat API is convenient, it lacks the stability and authenticity provided by official providers.

Official vs Third-Party

 Official (360dialog & Twilio)Third-Party
BroadcastInstant and no limitation.
Sending limit can be increased based on WhatsApp approval.
6000 messages /day
5 sec interval /message
LegalityApproved by WhatsAppViolates WhatsApp’s terms (WhatsApp may take legal actions)
Message content sentTemplate message approval requiredNo limitation
Verified green badgeAvailableNot available
WhatsApp Groups & User ProfilesNot supportedSupported

Third-party providers like Chat API offer more freedom in message content, but come with drawbacks. They lack the functionality and security of official WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs) like 360dialog and Twilio. On the other hand, official BSPs require businesses to submit messages for approval beforehand to prevent spam. This ensures a higher quality experience for both businesses and customers.

WhatsApp Messaging Limits

  • Third-party providers: Services like Chat API typically limit daily messages to 6,000 and send them with 5-second delays to avoid spam flags. However, using unofficial providers like Chat API increases your risk of being blocked by WhatsApp.
  • Official providers: 360dialog and Twilio offer instant message delivery and unlimited broadcasts (pay-as-you-go).

Regardless of the provider (Chat API or official options), never spam users you haven't interacted with before.

Reliability and Verification: The Green Tick Advantage

  • Third-party providers: Chat API offers a familiar experience, mirroring functionalities like user profiles and groups found in WhatsApp web and desktop. However, it lacks the official stamp of approval.
  • Official providers: In contrast, businesses using official WhatsApp Business Solution Providers (BSPs) like 360dialog and Twilio can apply for the coveted green verified badge. This badge signifies legitimacy and builds trust with customers right from the start, a crucial advantage unavailable with Chat API.

WhatsApp template & session messages

WhatsApp Official Business Solution Providers (BSPs) like 360dialog, and Twilio ensure your messages comply with the WhatsApp regulations through template and session messages.

Template Messages

Pre-approved message formats for marketing or outbound notifications such as delivery alerts, appointment reminders and more.

  • Required for messages sent over 24 hours after a user’s last response.
  • Categorized conversations starting June 2023 (Utility, Authentication, Marketing).
  • Submission for approval is necessary, with costs varying by country.

Session Messages

Messages exchanged within a user-initiated conversation (lasting 24 hours from the last received message). Can be initiated by waiting for a user message or sending a Template Message to prompt a response.

Phone Number & Connectivity: Key Differences

Official (360dialog & Twilio) Third-Party (Chat API)
New phone number 360dialog: New or existing business phone number required
Twilio: A new virtual number required
Not required
WhatsApp web/desktop Not applicable Must be disconnected
Phone internet connectivity Not required Always required
WhatsApp Business App Connectivity Not required Always required

While Chat API lets you use your existing phone number, it comes with limitations:

  • Constant Online Presence: The WhatsApp Business App needs to be constantly online, impacting stability in areas with low connectivity.
  • Limited Device Usage: Chat API requires the phone to be connected and cannot be used with WhatsApp Web/Desktop, increasing the risk of missed messages.

Official BSPs Offer More Flexibility:

  • No Constant Connection Needed: 360dialog and Twilio function even without a constant internet connection or the WhatsApp Business App running.
  • Multi-device Logins: They allow simultaneous logins on multiple devices, ensuring messages reach the most qualified agent for faster customer support.

WhatsApp Business API Provider Fees and Pricing

WhatsApp Business API ProviderOfficial (360dialog)Official (Twilio)Third-Party (Chat API)
Phone number costUSD 6 – 25 /virtual numberUSD 6.50 /Skype numberNot applicable
Provider service costUSD 50 – 65 /monthUSD 0.005 /messageFirst WhatsApp number free
USD29 /month per additional
WhatsApp number (no longer applicable as of June 2022)
First 1000 conversationsFreeFreeNot applicable
User-initiated conversationsUSD 0.0224 /conversationUSD 0.0224 /conversationNot applicable
Business-initiated conversationsUSD 0.0745 /conversationUSD 0.0745 /conversationNot applicable

Onboarding Efficiency: Third-Party vs. Official Providers

 Third-Party (Chat API)Official (360dialog & Twilio)
Account approval periodInstant1 – 2 weeks
Template message approval periodNot applicable< 48 hours

Chat API Onboarding:

  1. Download WhatsApp Business App (iOS/Android).
  2. Scan QR code with the app for setup.

360dialog Onboarding:

  1. Provide a new or existing business phone number (Skype number or current WhatsApp Business number).
  2. Fill in the applicant form and provide credit card info (USD $25/month).
  3. Connect Facebook Business account and create WhatsApp Business profile.
  4. Generate API key for connection.

Twilio Onboarding:

  1. Create a Twilio Account: Sign up for a Twilio account and apply for a virtual phone number for your WhatsApp Business account.
  2. Facebook Verification: Submit your business registration documents to Facebook for verification and approval. This process typically takes 1-2 weeks (refer to Twilio’s guide for details).

Template Message Approval (After Account Approval):

Once your account is approved, submit your WhatsApp Template Messages for review. These predefined messages require approval before sending to customers and typically receive a response within 48 hours.

Usage: Official BSPs vs. Chat API

Optimal company sizeMedium to large enterprisesSmall to medium business
Best forMarketing, sales, customer support, updates, and moreCustomer support & notification update

Official Business Solution Providers (BSPs) offer a wider range of functionalities compared to Chat API:

  • Verified Business Profile: Establish trust and brand identity.
  • Interactive Buttons & List Messages: Enhance user engagement.
  • Personalized Promotions: Targeted marketing through broadcasts.

Benefits of Upgrading to Official Providers:

  • Free Tier: 1000 user-initiated conversations per month (varies by provider).
  • Competitive Pricing: Lower costs compared to Chat API*.
  • Broadcast Capabilities: Send bulk messages without restrictions.
  • Green Tick Verification: Enhance brand credibility (subject to eligibility).

WhatsApp Business API Provider Comparison

FeatureChat API* (No Longer Available)Official (360dialog & Twilio)
Verified green badgeNot availableAvailable
Monthly costUSD29*360dialog: USD25 /month
Best forCustomer support & notification updatesMarketing, sales, customer support, updates & chatbots
Optimal company sizeSmall to medium businessesMedium to large enterprises
Account approval periodN/A1 to 2 weeks
Message content sentNo limitationTemplate message approval required
Broadcast6000 messages /day
(5 sec interval /message)
Instant, no limitation (increases with approval)
WhatsApp groups & user profilesSupportedNot supported
New phone numberNot required360dialog: New or existing
Twilio: New virtual number
Virtual number costNot applicableUSD 6 – 15 /number
Template message approval periodNot applicableWithin 48 hours
User-initiated/ service conversationN/AUSD 0.0224 /conversation
Business-initiated conversationN/AUSD 0.0745 /conversation (old); USD 0.0425 – 0.0732 /conversation (June 2023)
Phone internet connectivityAlways requiredNot required
WhatsApp Business App connectivityAlways requiredNot required
WhatsApp web/ desktopMust be connectedNot applicable
Existing contacts & conversation hsitorySaved & importedSaved & imported

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