WhatsApp is expanding its presence in the business market with the announcement today that the WhatsApp Cloud API will be available to all businesses worldwide. The new developer tool, which was introduced into beta testing in November, is a cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business API — WhatsApp’s first revenue-generating commercial product — but is hosted on parent company Meta’s servers.
The company had been developing its Business API platform for several years as one of the primary ways the otherwise free messaging service would generate revenue. Businesses pay WhatsApp per message, with pricing varying depending on region and volume of messages sent.
“Today we’re taking a significant step in making WhatsApp available for any business of any size across the world by offering free, secure cloud hosting services provided by Meta. With this new API, we’ve cut down start-up time from months to minutes so businesses and developers can quickly and easily access our service, build directly on top of WhatsApp to further customize their experience and increase the speed at which they can respond to their customers. These services will also eliminate costly server expenses for our partners and give them instant access to new features. Businesses can sign up directly or work with one of our business solution providers to get started.” wrote WhatsApp in a blog post.
The cloud-based version wants to attract a market of smaller enterprises and claims to shorten integration time from weeks to minutes. It is also completely free.
Businesses integrate the API with their back-end systems, and WhatsApp communication is typically only one component of their overall messaging and communication strategy. They may also want to send messages by SMS, other messaging applications, emails, and other channels. Typically, firms would collaborate with a solution provider such as Zendeks or Twilio to facilitate these integrations.
“The best business experiences meet people where they are. Already more than 1 billion users connect with a business account across our messaging services every week. They’re reaching out for help, to find products and services, and to buy anything from big-ticket items to everyday goods. And today, I am excited to announce that we’re opening WhatsApp to any business of any size around the world with WhatsApp Cloud API,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a live conference.
Meta also revealed that it is developing adavanced features for businesses to enable them expand their operations beyond a few employees and further magnify their brand online, such as the capacity to manage discussions across up to ten devices to better handle an inflow of chats. In addition, the company will offer new customisable WhatsApp click-to-chat buttons to assist businesses in attracting clients throughout their online presence. These functionalities will be available as additional, optional features in the WhatsApp Business app for a price as part of a new premium service.