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WhatsApp Business to open up with cloud API

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday announced important updates to WhatsApp Business Messaging offerings. The Meta-owned messaging app is introducing free cloud-based API services with an aim to get more businesses using the messaging app.

WhatsApp has announced tons of special features for business users.

The announcement was made by Zuckerberg at Meta’s “Conversations” event. The Meta CEO said that with this new offering any business or developer could easily access the service and could customize their experience and even speed up their response to customers.
“We have had the WhatsApp API available for larger businesses, but it’s been a complex product to get started with. You have to have someone implement the software for you, host it for you and maintain the software for you. And that’s a lot of complexity and burden to get started. The cloud-hosted version of the WhatsApp API removes all that complexity and you can get started in just a few minutes,” Matt Idema, vice-president, business messaging, Meta, said on a call from California.

Zuckerberg said WhatsApp users will be able to use improved features with WhatsApp Cloud API.

The company had been building out its Business API platform over the past several years as one of the key ways the otherwise free messaging app would make money. Businesses pay WhatsApp on a per-message basis, with rates that vary based on the region and number of messages sent. As of late last year, tens of thousands of businesses were set up on the non-cloud-based version of the Business API including brands like Vodafone, Coppel, Sears Mexico, BMW, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Itau Brazil, iFood, Bank Mandiri and others. This on-premise version of the API is free to use.

The cloud-based version, however, aims to attract a market of smaller businesses and reduces the integration time from weeks to only minutes, the company had said. It is also free.

Idema also said that the company will add to the capabilities of the free small business app with some premium features in the coming months such as providing a dedicated branded URL for businesses that works very much like a website address, and the ability to manage one phone number from multiple devices.

Interestingly, WhatsApp Cloud API was announced in beta in November 2021.

“So if you are a small business that has a team of 5-6 people responding to messages. Now instead of each one of them having to have their own number. You just have one number for the business because it makes it easier for customers. We will be introducing these premium features to the free small business app in the months to come,” he said.

As per a recent study conducted by Meta. Two out of three people agreed that messaging is their preferred way of communicating with a business.

Idema said Meta has seen strong adoption and good growth for business messaging on WhatsApp in India.

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