Do you know how you can stream Netflix on over 200 devices? It’s because of Netflix’s API. 60% of eBay listings are through their API. Plus, 50% of Salesforce transactions happen through APIs. You might now question what exactly is API ?

API is short for Application Programming Interface. It is a software intermediary that allows the user to interact with the application. Every time you send an instant message or use Facebook or even check the weather on your smartphone, you are using an API.

Whenever you are using an application on your phone, it connects to the Internet and then sends data to a server. The server retrieves this data and interprets it. Then, it performs the necessary actions and sends the required data back to your phone. The application on your phone will then interpret this data and present it to you in a comprehensible way. The whole process happens through an API.

In the present day, APIs have become extremely valuable and they comprise a major part of a company’s revenue. Big companies like Amazon. Google, eBay etc are just a few examples of companies that create revenue from their APIs.  AT present, API is described as any generic connectivity interface in an application. In this article, you will learn more about API and also about WhatsApp Cloud API.

What is an API?

As the world has started moving towards distributed systems, there has been a rise of networking. Thus, the need for sharing resources, data and even software across different applications has increased. However, with data sharing comes the risk of reduced security. 

Even though it’s necessary to share data, there can be no compromise of privacy. while also maintaining a layer of abstraction to make them comprehensive and easy to use. This is exactly why there is a need for API.

If you refer to the Google definition of API, it is a simple definition which goes like “A software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other”. API really is as simple as this definition. To help you understand it better, here is an example.

Imagine yourself in a restaurant where you are waiting to order from a list of choices in the menu. The kitchen in this restaurant is that part of the “system” which will get your order ready. The only missing link in this scenario is someone to communicate your order to the kitchen. And that link is the waiter. When we are talking of software applications, that intermediary link is the API.

Also read A complete guide to create a free WhatsApp chatbot.

What do you mean by WhatsApp Cloud API?

Now that you have an idea of what an API is, let’s learn about WhatsApp Cloud API.

WhatsApp Cloud API is the cloud version of the WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp Business API enables developers and users to build their businesses through WhatsApp. Moreover, it allows you to customize your customer experience and provide better customer support. 

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The WhatsApp Business API is very quick and easy to use because businesses can get direct approval from Facebook. Here are the benefits your business can enjoy using WhatsApp Cloud API:

  • Build their business on top of WhatsApp
  • Have better engagement with their customers
  • Easily access services

Earlier, only BSPs and WhatsApp partners could build on top of WhatsApp using its APIs. Now, Facebook has removed such restrictions. Thus, your business can get your Cloud API account approved from Facebook directly. 

The best part is it is very easy to create an account for WhatsApp Cloud API. It hardly takes ten minutes.

How does WhatsApp Cloud API work?

Have you seen the word “Meta” when you open Facebook or WhatsApp? It is pretty noticeable. 

Similar to cloud service companies, Meta acts as a hosting service. Meta takes the responsibility for the storage, computation, maintenance, network and other costs associated with the WhatsApp Cloud API.

The WhatsApp cloud API service allows businesses to send and receive around 80 messages every second to several numbers. Additionally, the service also allows you to register multiple phone numbers on the Cloud API. 

In case you have issues with scaling, the Cloud API handles that as well. It manages your workload quite easily. Moreover, you will have security updates available on the Cloud API automatically.

With Facebook making WhatsApp cloud API available to businesses, two major things have changed. On one hand, it is the way that your request to access WhatsApp Business API is processed. On the other hand, the whole process has become much faster and more accessible for businesses.

Also read, WhatsApp Automation and Why it Matters.

The Difference Between On-premise and WhatsApp Cloud API

Here are the basic differences between on-premise, i.e. WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Cloud API:

1) Quick and direct access from Facebook

In on-premise or WhatsApp Business API, Business Solution Providers (BSPs) act as intermediaries to get your business approved. However, with WhatsApp Cloud API, Facebook will provide access to businesses in a matter of minutes

2) No hosting charges

BSPs charge businesses additional costs for hosting and providing access in WhatsApp Business API. With WhatsApp Cloud API, Facebook bears all hosting charges.

3) No maintenance or upgrade costs

Following up on the previous point, all maintenance costs for WhatsApp Cloud API would be borne by Facebook. This is different to what happened in the past. In WhatsApp Business API, BSPs used to roll out manual updates.

Should you get WhatsApp Cloud API?

WhatsApp Cloud API can be a very useful tool for your business, depending on how you use it. The following points will help you decide whether you should integrate it into your business or not.

Here are the benefits and limitations of using WhatsApp Cloud API:

Benefits of using WhatsApp Cloud API

 

1) Faster process for approval

In the past, businesses had to depend on Business Solution Providers (BSPs) to approve their business. Only then would they get access to WhatsApp Business API. WhatsApp Cloud API removes the intermediary BSPs. This allows businesses worldwide to get access to the WhatsApp Business API.

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-WhatsApp-Cloud-API

2) Instant update

Since you will have direct access to the WhatsApp Business API, security updates will be available instantly.

3) Reduced costs

BSPs charged an additional fee for approving your business and getting you access to the WhatsApp Business API. Now you can have direct access to it. So, you don’t have to spend a single dime.

Limitations of WhatsApp Cloud API

The benefits of using WhatsApp Cloud API far outweigh any disadvantages. However, there are a few limitations to using WhatsApp Cloud API. 

These are under consideration and you can hope they get rectified soon. One of the constraints is that you have to use a phone number that has an on-premise WhatsApp Business API or with a cloud API. But you can’t use a number which has both.

How to get WhatsApp Cloud API?

Here’s everything you need to know about setting up WhatsApp Cloud API for your business. The steps are as follows.

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1) Log in to the Facebook developer account:

First, you need to visit the website developers.facebook.com and log in with your Facebook credentials. This is the first step to setting up your WhatsApp Cloud API. You will then have to click on the option saying Create App.

2) Select the app type:

You must select Business as your App type

3) Provide basic information about your business:

In this step, you will need to provide all the basic information about your business. You will need to provide information like the name of your organisation, the address, phone number, email id etc. You must also note that at present you won’t even need a verified Facebook Business Manager account to get your API account set up. However, it would still be good for you to have a verified account.

You can just select the option saying No Business Manager account selected. You can then proceed to the Create App option.

4) Set up WhatsApp from the Dashboard:

After you’ve logged into your Meta dashboard, scroll down to the option Set up.

5) Accept conditions of the WhatsApp Business API:

You will be led to a screen showing the Terms and Conditions before you can set up WhatsApp Cloud API. All you need to do now is hit the option Continue.

6) Send a test message to a number that has WhatsApp:

The final screen will give you a unique WhatsApp Business Account ID and a unique phone number ID. The number under From is the test number from which you can send messages to customers. The number under To is the number to which you will send the first message.

7) Enter the verification code that you receive:

At this point, you will receive a message on your phone from Facebook Business. This message will contain a Verification Code. You will have to enter this code for verification into the required box.

8) Send your first message over WhatsApp Cloud API:

This is the final step of setting up your WhatsApp Cloud API. You will now check if the integration of customer numbers has been successful. Select the message that you verified and click on “Send message”. Voila! You will have sent the first text message from your unique business number to a verified WhatsApp number via WhatsApp Cloud API.

Conclusion

So that’s about everything you need to know about the WhatsApp Cloud API. If you own a small business and have been considering creating a WhatsApp Cloud API account, your timing is perfect. That is because Facebook has now lifted the restriction and constraints surrounding creating a Cloud API account. So, you can easily create and access WhatsApp Cloud API in a matter of minutes. This is something that businesses have had to struggle with for weeks, and even months in the past.

Since you won’t even need a Business Solution Provider to provide you access to the API, you will save up on additional costs too. That is because most providers used to charge an additional fee for giving you access to the API.

Hopefully, this article has adequately told you all you need to know about WhatsApp Cloud API.

Also read, 5 Things To Know Before CRM WhatsApp Integration.