Everything You Need To Know About WhatsApp Business API

Never heard of it, or can’t decide if you should get it? Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know about WhatsApp Business API, all in one place!
Chee Yong Qing
Chee Yong Qing

Content Marketer

Reading time: 14 minutes

If you’re looking to enter the WhatsApp ecosystem for business needs, WhatsApp Business API seems like it’s almost a must-have.

Should your business use WhatsApp Business API? Why or why not? What alternatives are available there to have business access to WhatsApp?

In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive into a comprehensive look into everything you need to know about WhatsApp Business API and how you should use it.

Stick to the end to find out the variety of software providers for WhatsApp solutions that each caters to different sizes and types of businesses.

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What is WhatsApp Business API?

Let us break it down for you:

  • WhatsApp: Refers to access the use of the WhatsApp platform.
  • Business: Intended for businesses to conduct their business communications.
  • API: Stands for Application Programming Interface, used to describe a software intermediary that allows two applications to interact with one another.

In other words, WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to access the WhatsApp communications platform through another software that is not a dedicated WhatsApp application.

You can send and receive WhatsApp messages through business communication software or CRM tools when using WhatsApp Business API.

To access and use WhatsApp Business API, companies must either make a direct application with WhatsApp or work with a WhatsApp Partner that WhatsApp has officially identified as a Business Service Provider (BSP) that it works with. 

These WhatsApp BSPs will link up your business’ existing communication systems to the WhatsApp ecosystem.

But before we go deeper into unraveling all about WhatsApp Business API, let’s take a look at other WhatsApp solutions and how they differ. 

WhatsApp vs WhatsApp Business vs WhatsApp Business API


The regular WhatsApp application that is found on smartphones is intended for personal communication

You create a personal profile using your personal phone number and access it via a dedicated smartphone application or WhatsApp Web on computers. 

An example of a personal profile on WhatsApp.

Several notable features include text messaging with file sharing, voice and video calling,  group messaging, and message broadcast.

💡 Additional read: What’s the difference between WhatsApp Broadcast vs WhatsApp Group and when to use which?

WhatsApp Business

The WhatsApp Business application is built with smaller companies in mind for their business communication needs.

A business profile is created with your business phone number and is accessed by a separate, dedicated smartphone app or via WhatsApp Web.

An example of a WhatsApp Business business profile. Source: WhatsApp
An example of a WhatsApp Business business profile. Source: WhatsApp

It shares all features of the regular WhatsApp app, but also has additional features such as a business catalog, semi-automation for messages, and chat labels specific for business use.

An example of a WhatsApp Business business catalog. Source: WhatsApp
An example of a WhatsApp Business business catalog. Source: WhatsApp

However, it also has some limitations. The WhatsApp Broadcast feature can only send out template messages to a maximum of 256 recipients and require pre-approval from WhatsApp for compliance with their Message Template Guidelines.

Both WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business are free to use and no registration is required to begin using them.

WhatsApp Business API

Intended for medium and large enterprises, WhatsApp Business API is capable of supporting most of the common features that the WhatsApp Business app has. This includes a business profile with the verified green tick, text messaging, and semi-automation of messages.

World Health Organization’s WhatsApp account as an example of a business profile verified by WhatsApp.
World Health Organization’s WhatsApp account as an example of a business profile verified by WhatsApp.

However, it does not have a dedicated smartphone app, as it is intended for use via third-party business communication or CRM tools.


WhatsApp Business API is a paid service and requires registration with WhatsApp before access to use is approved. 

WhatsApp Business pricing models differ between different BSPs, but are typically charged according to price per message, message bundles based on the volume of messages, and even by the number of monthly active users.


Contact opt-in is required before your business can WhatsApp message your leads and customers using WhatsApp Business API. 

This comes in two ways – either your lead or customer initiates a WhatsApp conversation with you first, or that they have made prior-agreement to be contacted via WhatsApp, such as checking a box on the website where they submitted their contact information.

There are two ways for companies who use WhatsApp Business API to send out WhatsApp messages to their leads and customers.

The first way is through session messaging. This is a 24-hour window that you can freely chat with the lead or customer only after they initiate a conversation with your business, and the window is refreshed after every incoming message.

The second way is through sending templated messages. Template messaging are templated broadcast messages that still require compliance and approval according to the same guidelines mentioned above, but without a recipient limit.

WhatsApp Groups

You can only create and manage groups with WhatsApp Business API. The account cannot participate in the group chat like regular WhatsApp users. Furthermore, group members can only be added to these groups via an invitation message.

Summary of comparison

Here are the three WhatsApp product offerings at a glance:

Summary comparison table between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API.

💡Additional read: Similarities and differences between WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business

How to set up WhatsApp Business API

It’s never easy to set up a complex, integrated solution like WhatsApp Business API for your business.

This process may be easier if you work through a WhatsApp Partner, and request for support from their in-person representatives.

But regardless of whether you set up WhatsApp Business API through a WhatsApp Partner or decide to do it in-house with your IT team, here are the common steps to go for every set up of WhatsApp Business API.

Installation phase

For security reasons, the WhatsApp Business API software needs to be hosted on a local server to ensure WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption standards. This installation on a local server will also help with the integration with the third-party software your business will use to access WhatsApp.

Medium and large enterprises will find it common that their physical offices have such heavy, high-performance servers to install WhatsApp Business API. But smaller businesses who do not rely on such heavy technology will need to specifically adopt and maintain these local servers if they want to use WhatsApp Business API.

This complicated task of installation falls on the shoulders of your IT team and in-house developers. 

Registration phase

Facebook owns WhatsApp, so you’ll first need to set up your Facebook Manager ID

A screenshot of the Facebook Manager ID. Source: Tyntec
A screenshot of the Facebook Manager ID. Source: Tyntec

Then, identify the phone number that will be tied to your business account, and submit the WhatsApp addendum. You will then need to wait for Facebook’s verification of your Facebook Business account. Finally, complete your WhatsApp Business API account application.

From start to finish, this should take you around 5-7 business days, including waiting time for Facebook’s response. However, the process may be simpler for your business if you’re working with a WhatsApp Partner.

Post phase

With your account verified and activated, it’s time to set up the remaining elements to begin the use of WhatsApp Business API.

You’ll need to set up message templates for template messaging and submit them to WhatsApp for their approval with a waiting time of 1-3 business days.

You will also need to set up automated messages, such as welcome messages and auto-replies.

Other integrated messages such as business notifications and payment alerts will require your in-house developers to integrate WhatsApp Business API to your team’s workflow. This includes software integrations such as chatbots (which we’ll get to later!).

In-house developers also have a long-term commitment to the maintenance of the WhatsApp Business API on your servers and keep up to standards detailed by WhatsApp’s policies. Do take note that this will take up time and efforts from your team, and factor in arrangements and budget needed for this accordingly.

With the basics in place, you can finally start to build and launch your WhatsApp campaigns!

Benefits of WhatsApp Business API


Why didn’t WhatsApp launch its own native product for businesses with more complex communication needs?

That’s because WhatsApp Business API was meant to be a tool that supports your existing business workflows and customize it to best enable business communications on WhatsApp.

It’s meant to suit how you’d like to use it. Deploy it in whichever way you’d like to for your business (as long as you keep within the guidelines).

It is entirely up to your creativity and business needs to determine how you’d like to use WhatsApp in your business. Then make that a reality using WhatsApp Business API.


If your developers can code it, you can integrate it.

Any sizable business will find themselves using a large number of software for their daily workflows. Lead generation software, lead distribution software, CRM tools, analytic tools, productivity tools… The list goes on. 🤯

The strength of WhatsApp Business API lies in its ability to be integrated and embedded into any of your other software tools, so long as your developers and the software themselves support it. More than one software can be concurrently accessing and sending out WhatsApp messages, according to how you’d like it to. 

The point is, WhatsApp Business API’s greatest strength is that its deployment can be however you want it to be. If you have a business need that requires a WhatsApp message to be sent, WhatsApp Business API is there for you.

Do you need the WhatsApp Business API?

Now that we’ve compared the strengths and limitations of WhatsApp Business API and understood its requirements for set up, it’s important to ask ourselves if our business truly needs to adopt WhatsApp Business API.


Medium and large enterprises that have complex business communication needs and the existing infrastructure (both hardware and software) will find it natural to adopt the use of WhatsApp Business API. 

These larger businesses can afford its long term use, and will be glad to be able to freely configure its use.


On the other end of the spectrum, sole proprietors and fresh start-ups should certainly stick to utilizing the free WhatsApp Business app with their simpler business communication needs.


The complexity arises for growing small businesses that find themselves having more complicated business communication needs, but do not yet require a robust solution like WhatsApp Business API. 

Several factors such as budget, existing software employed, frequency of use, and growth rate can make it hard for such businesses to justify adopting WhatsApp Business API.

To fill this gap, there are BSPs who offer services to expand the capabilities of WhatsApp Business accounts using WhatsApp API to suit the needs of smaller companies.

Not to be confused with WhatsApp Business API (official software product from WhatsApp), WhatsApp API simply refers to the intermediary software interface that connects the WhatsApp platform to another software. 

Essentially, BSPs who offer solutions using WhatsApp API allow you to connect to WhatsApp via their product offering.

Why use WhatsApp API?

Now that we’ve compared the strengths and limitations of WhatsApp Business API and understood its requirements for set up, it’s important to ask ourselves if our business truly needs to adopt WhatsApp Business API.

Similarly competitive features

WhatsApp API solutions cannot offer the same kind of flexibility in letting in-house developers customize WhatsApp Business API to exactly how you want to use it.

However, BSPs who offer WhatsApp API solutions target the market of growing businesses. These companies would have understood the growing communication needs for this market and offered their solutions with specific features to address these specific needs.

For example, the omnichannel messaging solution NovoChat offers a broadcast feature that is not limited to the 256 recipient limit that the WhatsApp Business app has, and is therefore just as competitive as what WhatsApp Business API can offer.

In other words, you trade off flexibility and customization for cookie cutter solutions, while saving yourself from the need for in-house developers to customize the WhatsApp Business API. 🍪

Integration options

WhatsApp API solutions don’t lose out on integrations either. Certainly, the number of available integrations based on the WhatsApp API BSP will be limited, but smaller businesses don’t really use many different software for their daily workflows anyway. 

WhatsApp API solutions that offer software integration with CRM tools, analytic tools and other messaging platforms are just as good for small businesses.

Take the time to understand your business’ communication needs, and identify the features that you must have, and the features that you want to have. This will help you narrow down the options when selecting a WhatsApp API BSP.

No hassle

The entire set up process of adopting WhatsApp Business API is too complicated and technical for the regular small business who is experiencing growth. More time and energy should be invested into growing the business, not on setting up your messaging platform. 

BSPs that offer WhatsApp API solutions usually have a much easier installation and onboarding process. They do not require a WhatsApp Business API account from WhatsApp, saving you the hassle of the whole application process.

Instead, they should integrate and connect it with the regular WhatsApp Business account, with solutions that are easy to use and ready for use at any time.

No complex pricing

The complex pricing models of WhatsApp Business API can be both confusing and daunting to smaller businesses with a tight budget. But no business should be limited from growth just because they have more limited expenses.

BSPs offering WhatsApp API solutions have plain and direct pricing models detailing the features, number of messages, and monthly/annual prices.

Such transparency in pricing helps small businesses to gain more confidence in making an informed decision on such a purchase.

Different pricing models offered by the WhatsApp API BSPs will also give you an idea of what future upgrades are available when your business grows further and develops more complex communication needs.

Using WhatsApp API for your business

Regardless of whether you’re using WhatsApp Business API or third-party solutions that offer WhatsApp API, let’s talk about how you can specifically use them for your business!


With 2 billion active users and 175 million of them already messaging businesses,  you should most certainly market your business on WhatsApp.

And one prime example of how businesses use WhatsApp to market their business is by sending bulk messages to their customers.

Broadcast messages are messages simultaneously sent to multiple people while appearing as if it was personally sent to every recipient.

An example of a broadcast message appearing as an individual message.

When using WhatsApp’s broadcast feature or template messaging on WhatsApp Business API, users will need to comply with WhatsApp’s business policy, message template guidelines, and send out the appropriate type of messages. 

There are specific standards for these template messages and a wait time of 1-3 business days is needed before WhatsApp approves of their use.

Although you can’t broadcast messages that are of promotional nature, here are three ways to use the feature to market your business:

Events: Expert roundup webinars, Q&A livestreams and other events held can be broadcasted to gather interest and let customers feel more involved with your business!

Updates: Update existing customers when requested features are newly added, or when new store locations are opening near them. Convey to your customers that your business cares and values every customer. 

Surveys: Gather your customers’ opinions while conveying that you value their feedback. Ask about comments for your new products, or about their latest shopping experience on your website. 

But if you’re using a third-party WhatsApp API solution, you can do even more!

The broadcast feature on NovoChat bypasses all these limitations for WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API! Broadcast a variety of message templates as you deem suitable that best markets your specific business to leads and customers.

Customer Service

78% of leads buy from businesses who respond first

The speed of your customer service (CS) response will directly impact your business growth, for good responsiveness makes customers feel valued. 

WhatsApp messages feel immediate and conversations are made in real time. A prompt response from your CS representative is expected by your customers, so manage that expectation well in your CS. 

Use welcome messages and auto-replies to assure the customer that your CS representatives will respond within a promised number of hours.

There are two common reasons why customers approach your CS representatives — complaints about your product/service and requests for help on your product/service. Here’s how to use WhatsApp to manage both.

Using common features

Regardless of whether you use WhatsApp Business API or a third-party WhatsApp API solution, you’ll still have the core feature of WhatsApp’s messaging capabilities. Use this strategically to provide effective customer service. 

When managing complaints, ask your customer to share a photo or video of their problem so that you can better understand their situation. For help requests, send them a video or YouTube so that they can utilize the in-app viewing feature to better comprehend your CS team’s explanation.

Using unique features

Other unique software features can also help your team deliver better CS. 

NovoChat’s centralized inbox consolidates all conversations from all integrated messaging platforms into one location. The centralized inbox is accessible by all members added to the team – meaning that all members of your CS team can access any incoming CS request and attend to them anytime. 

Team members can also be specifically assigned to each conversation to better provide dedicated support. 

We suggest that you examine the kind of incoming request you receive to better identify what software feature will help your team deliver better customer service.

Don’t forget, good customer service is also good marketing! 😉


Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) software that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to simulate a conversation with a user in a natural manner through messaging apps, websites, or mobile apps.

WhatsApp chatbots are primarily designed to identify and assist customers with commonly encountered requests and problems. 

As such, they attend to lower-level requests so that human attention can be spent instead on more higher-level work and more complex requests from customer’s WhatsApp conversations with you.

In other words, they are a substitute to lessen the workload of your human team for incoming WhatsApp messages, but should not completely take over your business’ WhatsApp account. 

By providing menu-based interaction and utilizing keyword recognition capabilities, chatbots may be employed via WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp API solutions to relieve lower-level workloads off your human team. 

Chatbots can be employed to support the two above-mentioned ways.

For marketing, chatbots can automatically welcome new leads and customers, share with them your WhatsApp business catalog items for in-app viewing, or partner with your broadcast message campaigns for greater synergy to better reach your intended audience.

An example of using chatbot in marketing. Source: WATI
An example of using chatbot in marketing. Source: WATI

For customer service, chatbots can answer frequently asked questions like business hours, product details, purchase and refund policies, and point to resources for commonly-faced troubleshooting enquiries.

An example of a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions.
An example of a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions.

It should also provide fallback messages that allow customers to chat with a CS representative in the event where the chatbot cannot adequately answer the complex questions posed.

WhatsApp API providers


MessageBird is a communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) solution that offers omnichannel communication on a cloud platform. Its unified portal allows businesses to track all interactions with customers and easily view customer data.

Account type: WhatsApp Business API account

Standout feature(s): Centralized inbox, chatbot (add-on), website widget

Integrations: Voice calls, WhatsApp, SMS, Instagram messaging, email and Google business messages

Pricing: From $0.005 per WhatsApp message + Startup: Free, Pro: $50 per month, Pro Plus: $150 per month, Custom: Request for quote


NovoChat is an omnichannel messaging solution for sales communications. Built for small and medium businesses, NovoChat enables businesses to conduct multi-agent customer support straight from your web browser.

It’s broadcast feature also bypasses all strict WhatsApp guidelines, such as the 24-hour session window, 256 recipient limit, and template rules. 

Account type: WhatsApp Business account integration

Standout feature(s): Bulk message broadcast, centralized inbox, website widget

Integrations: WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, Slack, and more

Pricing: Pro: $74 per month (3,000 messages per day), Business: $249 per month (12,000 messages per day)


Twilio is a cloud contact center platform that enables omnichannel communication with customers. Although it supports a variety of other features such as voice and video calls, you can select and pay only to use their WhatsApp Business API messaging.

Account type: WhatsApp Business API account

Standout feature(s): Centralized inbox, chatbot (add-on)

Integrations: WhatsApp, SMS, email

Pricing: Varies depending on feature subscribed


Vonage Communications API is a communication suite that offers a variety of API solutions, accessible from the Vonage platform. Set up and access a variety of messaging platforms and communication tools, paying only for what you choose to use.

Account type: WhatsApp Business API account

Standout feature(s): Centralized inbox, chatbot (add-on)

Integrations: Voice and video calls, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, and more.

Pricing: Varies depending on feature subscribed


WATI is a WhatsApp engagement tool for B2C businesses to serve and notify their customers via WhatsApp. Their native no-code chatbot builder makes the building and implementation of a chatbot a hassle-free experience.

Account type: WhatsApp Business API account

Standout feature(s): Centralized inbox, message broadcast, no-code chatbot, website widget

Integrations: WhatsApp, Google Sheet, Shopify, Woocommerce WordPress

Pricing: $49 per month (15,000 messages per month), $0.005 per message after limit

So, should you use WhatsApp Business API?

You’ve made it to the end of this guide, you should be a pro by now 😎

Now for the ultimate question — should you use WhatsApp Business API?

As we’ve mentioned throughout this article, it really depends on your business.

Regardless of whether you decide to use WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp API, or WhatsApp’s other solutions, never forget to consider what your business needs are and how each solution can bring value

Several factors such as budget, existing software employed, and number of users should be points of consideration as well. 

For more content on how to use WhatsApp for your business, check out our blog!

If you’d like a hassle-free start in using API solutions for your business’ WhatsApp communication needs, give NovoChat a try and get started with us today! 👇👇👇

Try NovoChat for free! 🚀

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