WhatsApp Business API Pricing: The Ultimate Guide 2022

WhatsApp-Business-API-基於對話的定價-最新收費-2022

WhatsApp Business API is a customer communication software specially designed for enterprises. Compared with WhatsApp Business accounts, businesses can enjoy more messaging management functions. imBee partners with official WhatsApp Business API providers such as 360dialog to provide imBee users with official WhatsApp Business API services, so businesses can apply for and connect to WhatsApp Business API through imBee.

Because WhatsApp Business API allows businesses to enjoy more features, businesses need to pay WhatsApp to use it. Customers still communicate with businesses through regular WhatsApp Messenger, so this fee is only charged to the business.

The WhatsApp Business API pricing model before February 1, 2022 was Notification-Based Pricing. Meta has announced that from Feb 1, 2022 they will transition into Conversation-Based Pricing. Details of the official announcement can be found on Meta for Developers.

In this article, we will interpret the details of the official WhatsApp Business API pricing announcement, hoping to provide you with a clearer understanding.

Notification-based Pricing (before 2022.02.01)

Under the previous Notification-Based Pricing, WhatsApp Business API will only charge merchants for sending template messages, and each template message has the same price.

Businesses can only send paid template messages to customers if the last message from the customer exceeds 24 hours. WhatsApp will restart the 24-hour countdown from the last message sent by the customer to the merchant.

In WhatsApp’s view, template messages are notifications. WhatsApp expects businesses to complete communication with the customer within 24 hours. Businesses should not send promotional information to the customer through WhatsApp. After 24 hours, messages sent from businesses to a customer are considered as a notification.

Conversation-based Pricing (after 2022.02.01)

Conversation-Based Pricing means that businesses pay for each conversation, whether it’s a Business-Initiated or a User-Initiated Conversation. The charging models for business-initiated conversations and user-initiated conversations are different. WhatsApp will determine the fee for the conversation based on the party that initiates the conversation. Fee details will be explained below.

WhatsApp has also redefined the 24-hour conversation window of the latest WhatsApp API pricing plan. Regardless of whether it is a conversation initiated by a merchant or a customer, the 24-hour window is fixed. The 24-hour window will no longer be determined by the last message time sent by a customer. Therefore, a 24-hour conversation period is equal to one conversation, and each conversation will only generate one charge.

In each conversation, companies can send freeform general text or media messages to customers, and can also send template messages to customers. Also, under the new WhatsApp conversation based pricing model, there is no additional charge for template messages. Thus, businesses can save on template message fees and send more interactive template messages, which include button templates and list templates, to customers.

Pricing Table

Starting from February 1, 2022, WhatsApp Business API has adopted the Conversation-Based Pricing, which will vary based on the country code of the recipient.

If the customer’s phone number is from Hong Kong (+852), its number belongs to the category of “Rest of Asia Pacific”. Therefore, each conversation initiated by businesses will be charged USD 0.0745 (imBee will charge HKD0.5820), and each conversation initiated by customers will be charged USD 0.0224 (imBee will charge HKD0.1750).

WhatsApp Business API Charges – Example

WhatsApp Business API charges are based on who initiates the conversation. Intuitively, a conversation initiated by the customer means that the customer is the initiator of the conversation and sent the first message; conversation initiated by the business means that the business is the initiator of the conversation and sent the first message. But there are some special cases of this pricing rule.

If the business initiates a second conversation after the first 24-hour conversation ends, the charge for the second conversation initiated by the business depends on:

  • When a business replies to a customer more than 24 hours after the customer’s last message, it results in a new business-initiated conversation charge. The Business also needs to use a message template when it’s been more than 24 hours since the last user message. WhatsApp will charge the business-initiated conversation pricing fee of HKD0.5820 for this conversation;
  • Business can continue a second conversation at the user-initiated rate as long as it has not been 24 hours since the customer’s last message. WhatsApp will charge a customer-initiated conversation pricing fee of HKD0.1750 for this conversation.

Business-initiated Conversation:

At 09:00AM on December 24, 2021, the business initiated a conversation with the customer through a template message, and the 24-hour countdown window began. WhatsApp charges businesses a business-initiated conversation fee of HKD0.5820. If the customer replies to the message, any subsequent message to the customer can be a template message or any type of message. If the customer does not reply to the template message from the business, the business can only continue to contact the customer through template messages, and cannot send any freeform text or media messages.

As shown in the image below, the merchant sent the last message to the customer at 08:59AM on December 25, 2021, which was within the full 24-hour conversation, so the merchant did not need to pay again for this message.

Please note that the first conversation initiated by a business to a customer must be a Template Message. Template Messages need to be approved by WhatsApp before the business can use them. If you are an existing user of the WhatsApp Business API, you will be familiar with this practice.

imBee-WAB-API-基於對話的定價-由企業發起的對話

User-initiated Conversation:

The customer initiated a conversation with the business at 09:00AM on December 29, 2021, but the 24-hour conversation window would not start counting down immediately.

The business replied to the customer at 08:59AM on December 30, 2021, and the 24-hour dialogue window began to count down. The WhatsApp Business API charges businesses a customer-initiated conversation fee of HKD0.1750.

The business sent the last message to the customer at 08:58AM on December 31, 2021, which was within the 24-hour conversation, so the merchant did not need to pay again for this message.

Note: If the merchant replies to the customer within 24 hours, this conversation will be regarded as a customer-initiated conversation. If the merchant responds to the customer after 24 hours, the reply message will be regarded as a business-initiated conversation.

imBee-WAB-API-基於對話的定價-由顧客發起的對話

More Charge Calculation Examples:

The customer initiated a conversation with the business at 09:00AM on December 29, 2021, and the 24-hour conversation window would not start counting down immediately.

The business replied to the customer at 08:59AM on December 30, 2021, and the 24-hour dialogue window began to count down. The WhatsApp Business API charges the business a customer-initiated conversation fee of HKD0.1750.

The business sent the last message to the customer at 08:58AM on December 31, 2021, which was still the last minute of a full 24-hour conversation, so the merchant did not need to pay again for this message.

The business initiated a second conversation with the customer at 09:01AM on December 31, 2021. Since the previous 24-hour conversation window had ended, a new 24-hour conversation window would start the countdown again. In this case, the time of sending the initiated message of the second conversation has not been 24 hours since the customer’s last message, WhatsApp Business API would define this conversation as a customer-initiated conversation and charge the business a customer-initiated conversation of HKD0.1750. 

Even if the conversation is initiated by the merchant, WhatsApp in this case will assume that the business is just continuing to respond to the customer’s inquiries rather than initiate a new conversation. So, in this example, the business needs to pay WhatsApp twice for a total of HKD0.350.

WhatsApp Business API 基於對話的定價 商家24小時內follow-up

The customer initiated a conversation with a business at 09:00AM on December 29, 2021, and the 24-hour conversation window would not start counting down immediately.

The business replied to the customer at 08:59AM on December 30, 2021, and the 24-hour dialogue window began to count down. The WhatsApp Business API charges businesses a customer-initiated conversation fee of HKD0.1750.

The business sent the last message to the customer at 08:58AM on December 31, 2021, which was still the last minute of a full 24-hour conversation, so the merchant did not need to pay again for this message.

The business initiated a second conversation with the customer at 10:00AM on January 1, 2022. Since the previous 24-hour conversation window had ended, a new 24-hour conversation window would restart the countdown. In this case, the business replied to the customer more than 24 hours after the customer’s last message, WhatsApp Business API would define this conversation as a business-initiated conversation and charge the company of HKD0.5820. Moreover, this enterprise-initiated conversation must be sent through a “Template Message” rather than a freeform message.

So, in this example, the business needs to pay WhatsApp twice for a total of HKD0.757.

WhatsApp Business API 基於對話的定價 商家24小時後follow-up

24 Hour Countdown Method

Note that Conversation-Based Pricing defines different 24-hour countdown methods for different conversation initiating roles.

Conversations initiated by businesses:

After a business sends a message to a customer, no matter when the customer replies to the merchant or does not reply to the merchant, the 24-hour conversation countdown will still start immediately from the moment the business sends the message.

Conversations initiated by customers:

The 24-hour countdown is not triggered by the moment when a customer initiates the conversation. The 24-hour conversation window will not count down until the business replies to the customer’s message, but the business must reply within 24 hours of the customer’s message.

The Cases of Free Conversations

The good news is that, in order for businesses to take advantage of Meta’s products to expand their customer base, WhatsApp offers waivers for conversation fees.

Free Tier Conversations

First, businesses can enjoy 1,000 free conversations per month per WhatsApp Business API account. These 1,000 free conversations can be initiated by businesses or by customers. In other words, businesses can save up to about HKD582 per month! (For each conversation of Business-Initiated Conversation, Meta will charge USD0.0745 to the official account, and imBee will convert it into Hong Kong dollars on its behalf, that is, charge HKD0.5820 x 1,000 monthly free conversations = HKD582.) 

It should be noted here that 1000 free conversations are calculated based on per WhatsApp Business API account, not per phone number. Each WhatsApp Business API account can hold more than one phone number, but WhatsApp does not count the first 1000 free conversations per month by phone number.

Free Entry Points Conversations

When customers click the WhatsApp call-to-actions buttons on Facebook or Instagram ads, or click the WhatsApp CTA button on the Facebook page, the conversation won’t be charged.

Please note: Only customers can initiate the free entry point conversations; only the first conversation from an entry point is free, any subsequent conversations will be charged.

How does the latest WhatsApp Business API pricing benefit businesses?

Businesses may consider a conversation-based charge more expensive than a notification-based charge. But in fact, businesses will pay less than before, and the latest WhatsApp Business API pricing guidelines are more reasonable.

First, businesses that need to send multiple notifications to their customers will definitely benefit from the new pricing scheme. Enterprise users can send an unlimited number of messages within 24 hours, and do not need to pay to send each template message. This allows businesses to pay less to use the WhatsApp Business API account.

Furthermore, businesses can leverage the potential of WhatsApp and Meta products to build a more complete customer journey. Businesses can take advantage of 1,000 free monthly conversations and free entry points to distribute sales elements such as marketing ads, inquiries, order placement, promotion notifications, etc. into different parts of the customer journey, allowing you to support your customers from start to finish and increase sales.

WhatsApp Business API 2022 Pricing Summary

The latest pricing for WhatsApp Business API accounts effective February 1, 2022 has the following highlights:

  • The conversation fee is charged to business users according to a fixed 24-hour conversation time limit
  • Business-initiated conversations have different 24-hour countdown methods than user-initiated conversations, as well as different pricing
  • The first 1000 conversations per WhatsApp Business API account per month are free
  • Customer conversations from the free conversation entry point are free for the first time

WhatsApp API Charges – Frequently Asked Questions

Are WhatsApp broadcast messages a template message?

Businesses can only broadcast template messages.

Is there a charge for WhatsApp broadcast messages?

Depends on the situation.

If your conversation with Customer A is still within 24 hours, and Customer A is on the recipient list for this broadcast message, this broadcast message will not be charged one more time.

When your conversation with Customer B is no longer within the 24-hour conversation time limit, and Customer B is in the recipient list of this broadcast message, this broadcast message will be regarded as a conversation initiated by the enterprise and will be charged. The message fee is HKD0.5820.

What’s the difference between freeform messages, template messages, customer-initiated conversations, and business-initiated conversations?

Freeform messages: This refers to text, images, videos, audio recordings, files, and other types of messages sent by users through WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, and WhatsApp Business API. Both business users and general users can send this type of message.

Template Message: Template messages are messages that have been approved for use by WhatsApp. Business users need to submit a message template to WhatsApp in advance and wait for WhatsApp to approve its use. Business users can set up variables in the templates. WhatsApp will check whether the content conforms to its guidelines. After WhatsApp approves the message templates, businesses can send out Template Messages. Businesses can also input the variables before sending the message.

Template messages are only available for WhatsApp Business API accounts and only businesses can send this type of message. The first message initiated by businesses and all the broadcast messages can only be sent through template messages. 

Customer-initiated conversation: The first message of the 24-hour conversation is initiated by the customer, and the messages that the customer can send are only messages in freeform general format. The cost of the sub-conversation is HKD0.1750.

Business-initiated conversation: The first message of the 24-hour conversation is initiated by the business. For a business to initiate a new 24-hour conversation, the first message a business sends must be a template message. Only after the customer has sent a reply to the business can the business begin to communicate with the customer with freeform messages; if the customer has been ignoring the business, the business can only contact the customer by sending template messages. The per-conversation fee charged by imBee for Business-Initiated Conversation is HKD0.5820.

imBee’s WhatsApp Business API Service

WhatsApp Business API cannot be downloaded directly from App Store / Google Play. Enterprises need to obtain the API service from the official WhatsApp Business API providers and develop an interface to use WhatsApp Business API.

imBee develops a market-leading customer chat management platform, connecting instant messaging softwares such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WeChat, LINE, etc. We partner with 360dialog, an official WhatsApp API provider. This allows imBee users to apply for a WhatsApp Business API account with a simple process and at a favorable price. For details, please refer to the article WhatsApp Business API Application Steps.

imBee users can reply to customer service messages from the above communication channels on the platform, and can also use imBee’s automated message management function to speed up the processing of customer service messages and help frontline colleagues improve work efficiency.