Want to connect with your customers using WhatsApp but don't know how to get WhatsApp API? This blog post is for you. We’ll be answering questions like what is WhatsApp API and what you should know before you get WhatsApp Business API. You’ll also find step-by-step guides to signing up for 360dialog and Twilio WhatsApp API accounts. Plus, learn how to get your WhatsApp API key and connect to a WhatsApp CRM.
What is WhatsApp API
WhatsApp API is designed for medium to large companies looking to use WhatsApp with teams of users. However, it is complex and different from other WhatsApp products like WhatsApp Business App in many ways.
For a start, WhatsApp API is not free. Under the notification-based pricing model, businesses will need to pay for sending WhatsApp broadcasts or notifications. To prevent spam, WhatsApp API users cannot reply to messages freely outside the 24-hour Messaging Window.
Creating a WhatsApp Business API Account is as tricky as learning the messaging rules - you can only get a WhatsApp API account through WhatsApp Partners, and the application process varies depending on the Partner (more on that later).
It’s also worth noting that WhatsApp API lacks some features found in Business App such as WhatsApp Calls and Group Chats. However, WhatsApp API offers many other advanced functionalities like multi-user support and WhatsApp Notifications.
One similarity WhatsApp API has with Business App is that they are both governed by WhatsApp Business Policy and WhatsApp Commerce Policy. WhatsApp Commerce Policy prohibits certain business verticals from using WhatsApp API. This includes, but is not limited to, companies that sell illegal products, drugs and tobacco.
You should review the Commerce Policy carefully to find out if your company is eligible for WhatsApp API before signing up for it. Now that you have a good grasp of WhatsApp API, let’s learn how to get a WhatsApp API account.
How to Get WhatsApp API Account
So how do you apply for WhatsApp Business API? Applying for a WhatsApp API account generally involves four steps:
- Buy or port a phone number
- Undergo WhatsApp Commerce Policy and Display Name checks
- Verify Facebook Business and number, and accept messaging permissions
- Generate an API Key to connect to a business software
Below, we will look at each of these steps in detail.
Buying or Porting a Phone Number
Some Partners require you to buy a number, while others like 360dialog let you port your own number. Make sure the number you port can receive calls or SMS, and is not used for another WhatsApp Business App or API account.
Undergoing WhatsApp Commerce Policy and Display Name Checks
WhatsApp will review your application to ensure that it meets its Commerce Policy. Additionally, WhatsApp will need to approve your Display Name. To be verified quickly, we recommend using a Display Name that matches your legal business name.
Verifying Facebook Business and Number
As part of the application process, you need to complete the Business Verification in Facebook Business Manager by providing some required documents. The process usually takes a few working days. Remember, Facebook Business Verification is different from Facebook Page Verification.
Generating an API Key
Once you have obtained a WhatsApp API account, generate your WhatsApp API account key and connect it to a business software. As it has no app or front-end interface, WhatsApp API has to be integrated into a third-party WhatsApp CRM before you can use it.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of how to get a WhatsApp API account, we’ll walk you through the steps to apply for WhatsApp API through Twilio and 360dialog. The former involves a tedious verification process, while the latter gives you instant access to WhatsApp API.
Twilio WhatsApp API: How to Get WhatsApp Business API Account on Twilio
To get a Twilio WhatsApp API account, create a Twilio account. Any new account comes with $15 of free credit, which is enough to buy a phone number.
1. Navigate to the Twilio Dashboard > Get a Trial Number to create a Twilio Phone Number.
Then you'll be offered a number in your region.
2. Click Choose this Number. Alternatively, you can search for a different one.
3. Navigate to Programmable SMS > WhatsApp > Senders > Sign Up to Receive Updates.
After clicking Sign Up to Receive Updates, you will be taken to a form.
4. Provide your Account String Identifier (SID), Facebook Business Manager ID, and other requested details in the Twilio Request Access form.
If your application is successful, you’ll receive a pre-approval email with instructions on what to do next.
5. Create a WhatsApp Sender profile. Go to Programmable Messaging > Senders > WhatsApp Senders. Click on New WhatsApp Sender to create a new profile. A form will appear.
6. Provide Business Profile details. Make sure your Business Display Name is in compliance with WhatsApp rules. Press Submit Request when you’re done.
7. Go to Facebook Business Manager and approve Twilio to send messages on your behalf.
8. Verify your Facebook Business Manager account. Go to Security Center in Facebook Business Manager. Click the Start or Continue button under the Verification section.
Twilio will complete the registration process and send you a confirmation email. Then, generate an API key to connect to a CRM. If you need a CRM to connect to you can find one here.
Applying for a WhatsApp API account on Twilio is a lengthy process, as the mandatory Facebook Business verification process can take up to several days. If you want to get a WhatsApp API account fast, try 360dialog Express Sign-up.
360dialog WhatsApp API Express Sign-up: How to Get Business WhatsApp API the Easy Way
With 360dialog Express Signup, you can create WhatsApp API in under 10 minutes without Facebook Business verification. Apply for 360dialog WhatsApp API account here.
1. Add an Email, Full Name and your Company Legal Name. Then, create a password that you will use to sign in to the 360 Client Hub.
2. Click on Continue with Facebook to connect a Facebook Business Account.
Log in to your Facebook account when prompted. Then, select a Facebook Business Account that you want to associate with your WhatsApp Business Account. If you don’t have a Facebook Business Account, there will be an option to create a new one.
3. Create a WhatsApp Business Account. Fill in the name of your WhatsApp API account - it can be your business name. Click on Continue when done.
4. Create a WhatsApp Business Profile by adding a WhatsApp Business Display Name, Business Category and an optional Business Description.
This information will be displayed on your WhatsApp Business Account profile, and your customers will be able to see it. Make sure that the Display Name is as close to your Company Legal Name as possible, and that it complies with WhatsApp’s formatting rules.
5. Add and verify the Phone Number to associate with the WhatsApp API account.
The Phone Number is verified via a PIN sent to you through a call or SMS, so make sure you have access to the number you are using. Remember, the number should not be currently in use with any WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business App or WhatsApp API accounts.
To use a phone number tied to an existing WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business App account, delete your current WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business App account. Keep in mind, deleting your WhatsApp or WhatsApp Business App account means losing your Contacts and Messages permanently.
6. Complete the sign-up process by clicking on OK. You will enter Unverified Trial Experience once the phone number is successfully verified. At this stage, WhatsApp will commence the Display Name and Commerce Policy checks which can take up to 48 hours to complete.
After passing both checks, your WhatsApp API account will go live. Now you can send Message Templates to up to 50 unique customers in a rolling 24-hour period. To increase your messaging capacity and message more customers, you will need to upgrade to Tier 1.
Although optional, the tier upgrade is recommended for businesses that want to use WhatsApp API for sending notifications and broadcasts. To upgrade, simply verify your Facebook Business Account.
Before messaging your customers with WhatsApp API, you need to generate a WhatsApp API key and connect your API account to a WhatsApp CRM.
7. Generate an API Key.
It’s easy to get a WhatsApp API key. After completing the signup, you will be logged in to 360 Client Hub where you can generate your API key. Once you’ve gotten your API key, use it to connect to a WhatsApp CRM.
If you want to learn more about WhatsApp for Business, check out these articles:
- Everything You Need to Know About WhatsApp API Pricing
- Using WhatsApp Business for Multiple Users
- How to Send WhatsApp Business Notifications