What is the difference between WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp Web?

August 5, 2021

We are often asked if it's possible to connect one's WhatsApp app to our product. The short answer is "No, we only support the official WhatsApp Business API (WABA) solution, and would you like to sign up for that?" It's true that some third party platforms offer 'WhatsApp Web' (or connecting a personal WhatsApp account) as an option, which can sometimes be easier to set up, but there's more to it that you need to know before signing up. In this article we will describe what WhatsApp Business API (WABA) is, why it exists, why it has seemingly complex rules, and how it's different from the WhatsApp app on your phone.

Both the WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business mobile apps are considered "personal" WhatsApp apps, meant to be used by only one individual. WhatsApp Business API (WABA), on the other hand, runs entirely in the cloud, and can't be accessed from any personal WhatsApp app. This is why you need front-end access tools like Rasayel's omnichannel inbox to use WABA. You'll also need what are known as Business Solution Providers — these are WhatsApp partners through which you can obtain an approved WhatsApp Business API account.

This may sound complicated compared to just installing the WhatsApp app on your phone or scanning a QR code. Yes, scanning a QR code might be a breeze, but it comes with complications. Allow me to explain.

Third-party WhatsApp Web solutions lose miserably to the official WhatsApp Business API simply because of the way these solutions are built: by reverse engineering the WhatsApp app. They are therefore not approved or endorsed by WhatsApp, and WhatsApp may choose to crackdown on them at any point. They may also ban your account if they suspect you're using reverse engineered software.

Providers that offer this solution can only guarantee stability to a limited extent — most of it bepends on your device's connectivity, power management, the stability of your internet connection, and the stability of the connection between your device and the solution provider's servers. Your device must run WhatsApp 24/7, and can never be disconnected or lose charge. Even then, inconsistent connectivity and message delivery issues are common, leading to a frustrating customer experience.

On the other hand, WhatsApp Business API (WABA) does not rely on your device at all. In fact, it cannot be connected to your device. It runs entirely in the cloud, and is therefore a much more reliable option. More importantly, it is the only method approved by WhatsApp.

What are the other differences?

To combat spam, WABA has a few rules:

  1. Before contacting your customers, you need to obtain their consent. If you do not, your customers might block you or report you for spam.
  2. After your customer texts you back, you're given 24 hours to respond to them. This is known as the customer service window.
  3. If the customer service window expires, or if you're texting this customer for the first time, you need to use what's know as a WhatsApp message template, which requires a one-time pre-approval from WhatsApp. Learn more about message templates here.

Not having limitations such as the 24-hour may seem appealing, but it hurts your business in the long run. The WABA rules mentioned above were put in place to protect your customers and to help you provide them with the best experience possible. For this reason, we at Rasayel only support the official WhatsApp Business API.

With our new 360dialog Express sign up, applying for a WABA account takes only a few minutes. As partners of 360dialog, your WhatsApp account will only cost you $15/month.