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Meta offers free cloud API to WhatsApp Business users

Meta offers free cloud API to WhatsApp Business users
19 May, 2022
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Instant messaging service WhatsApp, which launched its business platform in India in 2018, is now going to provide cloud hosting services to enterprises coming onboard. At the Meta Conversations event on May 19, the company announced that it is opening up its cloud application programming interface (API) for all businesses around the world. 

The service has been in the beta testing phase since November 2021, and seeks to rope in more businesses to its WhatsApp Business platform. Meta Conversations is the company’s yearly business and developer conference. It was formerly known as F8.

Meta (formerly Facebook) chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the initiative during his keynote. Zuckerberg said that the WhatsApp Cloud API will primarily reduce the time taken to set-up a business on a cloud platform to “just a few minutes.”

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So far, the WhatsApp Business API offered WhatsApp’s messaging platform as a service to businesses. It offered an alternate customer service to emails, interactive voice response (IVR)-based telephony or customer response chatbots integrated into company websites. While setting up on the service is free, WhatsApp charges businesses on a per-message basis, depending on volume of conversations and the location of the business.

The WhatsApp Business platform is a way for the Meta-owned service to monetize the platform, which offers its customer-facing chat services without any upfront charge. To be sure, cloud hosting is an optional feature that businesses can choose to ignore. 

The cloud services will be available to businesses for free for now. However, the company will charge businesses unspecified fees for a “premium” service within its Business ecosystem, which would include features such as managing chats linked to a business number across up to 10 devices, or customizable click to chat links for businesses to advertise.

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According to Meta, businesses will no longer need to first set-up their businesses using third party cloud storage and services platforms. The company also claimed that such a process presently takes weeks – or even months – for businesses looking to digitize their operations right now.

Zuckerberg claimed that as of now, over a billion people use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses every week.

In February last year, WhatsApp faced considerable backlash around the world after it published a new usage policy that stated that the service will share user data with its parent, then still called Facebook. The company quickly clarified that the new policy terms only applied to conversations that users had with businesses through its app, and claimed that it did not share conversation information, geolocation or any other “private” data in this process.

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The cloud service provided to WhatsApp Business users, too, comes from Meta. It is unclear whether using such cloud services will give the parent company access to user interactions and data.

In India, WhatsApp’s business messaging services are used by various companies, including telecom and satellite TV operator Tata Sky, oil company Bharat Petroleum, online travel portal Yatra and others. It also has a partnership with Jio, through Meta’s investment in Jio Platforms Ltd. back in June 2020.


WhatsApp has over 530 million users in India, according to data shared by the Indian government in February last year. The company hasn’t shared how many businesses are using the platform in India.

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