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What is the WhatsApp Business API?

WhatsApp Business API
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With more than 2 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp is the most popular messenger. In Germany alone, over 60 million people use the messenger daily (source: Statista 2022). WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) has also been offering companies a way to use the messenger for customer communication for several years with its WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API products.

What proportion of respondents regularly use the messenger services shown (source: Statista 2022)?

For good reason, the presence of companies on WhatsApp is becoming increasingly popular: The open rate of WhatsApp messages is 98%, significantly higher than that of e-mails (approx. 20%) (source: AiSensy.com). In an increasingly competitive market environment, companies must increasingly position themselves on the platforms where consumers are already spending time anyway. As can be seen in the chart above, WhatsApp is particularly one of these - 87% of Germans use WhatsApp regularly. Since many users would like to communicate with companies via WhatsApp, over 50 million companies have now gone this route and can be reached on WhatsApp (source: Manager Magazin). This article explains the differences between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API and what companies should choose.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business is a free app available for Android and Apple smartphones, designed specifically for small businesses. WhatsApp Business simplifies interaction with customers by providing tools to automate, sort, and quickly reply to messages. The user interface and many features are similar to those of the WhatsApp Messenger app for individuals, making WhatsApp Business very easy to use for most businesses.

Compared to the app for individuals, a WhatsApp corporate account offers the following additional features:

  • Company profile to list important information, such as a company's address, email, and website.
  • Messaging tools to quickly respond to customer inquiries, such as text modules and automated responses
  • Categorize customers and chats (e.g. new customer, prospect, service request, etc.) for better clarity
  • Automated responses to customers (e.g. outside business hours)
  • Creation of product catalogs

WhatsApp Business can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store and the App Store.

A company profile can be created on WhatsApp Business (source: Google Play Store).
A product catalog can also be added to WhatsApp Business (source: Google Play Store).
With the help of labels, WhatsApp Business chats can be divided into categories and color-coded.

What is WhatsApp Business API?

To provide larger businesses with a secure, scalable, and GDPR-compliant solution tailored to their needs, Facebook launched the WhatsApp Business API in August 2018. This application programming interface (API) enables businesses to receive and reply to WhatsApp messages from their customers.

Unlike the WhatsApp Business App, the API itself comes without a user interface. The API connects WhatsApp with a professional messaging tool, such as Mateo offers. Companies integrate the WhatsApp API endpoint into the software of an official WhatsApp Business Solution provider. Mateo offers enterprise customers the corresponding integration in a clear user interface with its in-house software.

The most important features of the WhatsApp Business API

In order to keep WhatsApp free of excessive advertising and spam, there are some restrictions that companies must follow when contacting users.

Marketing via WhatsApp Business

Companies are only allowed to send advertising messages, spam and marketing messages as so-called "Promotional Messages". These are individually customizable message templates that must be approved in advance by WhatsApp. Customers can, for example, receive product suggestions based on their last order. Cold call messages and certain words or phrases that make the message sound too promotional are not allowed. Important customer information such as order confirmations can, of course, be sent at any time. 

Consent (Opt-in)

Messages can only be sent to users if they are a reply to a message from the user or if the person actively opts in to receive WhatsApp messages (e.g. by entering a phone number and checking a box).

Service window for answers

If a user sends an inquiry to the company via WhatsApp, the answer must be provided within 24 hours ("customer care window"). This means that customer inquiries are answered promptly, which improves the user experience of WhatsApp users and prevents the company from contacting them (without opting in).

Within the service window, communication with WhatsApp Business works just like with the application for individuals. Messages can be sent with text, web links and emojis, and of course images, videos and attachments like PDF files can be shared in the chat.

Automation in the form of chatbots is allowed within the service window. However, the option to forward the user to a customer service representative must be available.

When the service window is closed, a special message template must be sent to ask the user to contact you.

Message templates

Message templates (called "template messages" by WhatsApp) can make customer communications very efficient for the business. WhatsApp business customers can use pre-written messages to send order confirmations, payment requests, and shipping information in seconds.

Technically, a message template is a text string that uses placeholders (for e.g. order numbers, dates and prices) to provide personalized information. In addition to the selection of frequently used templates provided by WhatsApp Business by default, custom message templates can also be created to cover all service situations for the individual use case. These must be approved before they can be used by WhatsApp. The approval process takes up to 24 hours. WhatsApp reviews message templates to prevent companies from sending unwanted content such as advertising messages to consumers.

Message templates make customer communication via WhatsApp Business highly efficient (Source: Google Play Store).

Combined with a clear user interface like Mateo offers, these tools unleash their full potential and make WhatsApp Business API customer communications highly efficient.

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

To keep track of these three variants of WhatsApp, all the important information is summarized in the following table.

Overview WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp API
The differences between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp API at a glance

GDPR compliance of WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

The WhatsApp Business app, while designed for small businesses, is unfortunately not compliant with the GDPR regulations in many aspects.

Reading tip: In our article "WhatsApp Business GDPR"we have summarized all background information and explain why WhatsApp Business is not compatible with the GDPR.

Business owners are responsible for both the collection and processing of personal customer data. Communication via WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, but not GDPR-compliant in the foreseeable future, as WhatsApp Business still has access to metadata and contact lists, which makes its use questionable from a data protection perspective. Only the WhatsApp Business API can be used in the company in a GDPR-compliant manner.

The WhatsApp Business API has a simple opt-in and opt-out and does not access the user's private phone book. Contact data cannot be read by Facebook or other third parties. There is also a transparent privacy policy and order data processing agreement. Accordingly, only the API interface enables companies to use WhatsApp Business in Germany in a GDPR-compliant manner.

Both the WhatsApp application for private individuals and WhatsApp Business, on the other hand, do not meet the high data protection requirements of the European legislator and are not recommended for customer communication.

Which companies can use the WhatsApp Business API?

The WhatsApp API is the perfect solution for companies that see WhatsApp as an important communication channel, comply with the applicable GDPR and want to use the messenger with multiple employees.

However, all businesses using WhatsApp Business must comply with the WhatsApp Commerce Policy. According to the Commerce Policy, the following industries and services are excluded from using all WhatsApp Business products:

  • Alcohol, tobacco products and accessories
  • Drugs and medication
  • Illegal products and services
  • Unsafe dietary supplements
  • Weapons, ammunition or explosives
  • uvm.

Accordingly, companies must check in advance whether they are authorized to use WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business API according to the commercial policy and whether they can comply with the terms of use when using the messenger.

How can I set up WhatsApp Business API for my business?

WhatsApp only allows very few large corporations direct access to its API. For most companies, the path to the WhatsApp Business API leads via so-called Business Solution Providers. These are official partners of WhatsApp owner Facebook that support companies in accessing the API. Accordingly, the setup of the API depends on the API provider.

Mateo's professional messaging tool offers not only the integration of WhatsApp Business via the API, but also a clear user interface and the integration of many other communication channels such as email, Instagram, SMS and Facebook Messenger. Mateo offers a fully comprehensive service with professional account managers when setting up the software including WhatsApp Business API.

An inventory analysis identifies how the software can best be integrated. Then, if not already in place, Mateo applies for company phone numbers and sets up the system. Now the communication channels are united in the user interface provided by Mateo and can be used directly. A dedicated contact person is always available to answer questions and provide additional tips for highly efficient customer communication. All details are discussed in a free consultation appointment.‍

How much does WhatsApp Business API cost?

WhatsApp Business API offers significantly more features compared to WhatsApp Business and is therefore only available for a fee. The costs vary greatly between the official WhatsApp API providers. Therefore, it is worth comparing the costs.

Monthly fee 

The monthly fee varies between the different WhatsApp API providers. Mateo is a cheap provider on the market and charges only 79 euros per month for the cheapest package, which offers many other features besides WhatsApp API.

Cost per maintenance 

There is little difference in the cost per conversation between API providers, as they usually pass on the fees assessed by WhatsApp directly to their enterprise customers. The first 1000 conversations per month are always free, so there are usually no additional fees for small businesses. After 1000 calls, WhatsApp charges a small fee for each call started. The cost varies depending on whether the call is initiated by the customer or the business. If a customer initiates a conversation, the company is only charged once it answers. The charge in Germany for a "customer-initiated call," as in this case, is approximately 7 cents per conversation. Depending on the purpose of the call (administration, authentication or marketing), between 6.3 cents and 11.3 cents are charged for a conversation initiated by the company.

Reading tip: In our article "What will the WhatsApp Business API cost in 2023?" we have described all costs in detail.

What are the benefits of using WhatsApp Business API with Mateo?

Mateo's WhatsApp API interface offers many other benefits and improves your customer communication in dozens of aspects:

Central user interface

In addition to WhatsApp Business API, Mateo bundles many other communication channels such as email, Instagram, SMS or Facebook Messenger in a central inbox. On the intuitive and clear user interface, you will find various helpful tools for particularly efficient customer communication. A web widget with the messaging channels you support is available for your customers for particularly easy contact.

Custom Message Templates

Thanks to various message templates that can be created individually, the amount of paperwork is minimized and the efficiency of customer communication is increased. This means that personnel resources in the service area can be deployed elsewhere.


With Mateo's WhatsApp API solution, newsletters can be sent in a GDPR-compliant manner. Due to the high open rates of 98% for WhatsApp messages, marketing can be done much better than via email or other channels.

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More positive Google reviews

With Mateo, you create an outstanding customer experience. Mateo can automatically request online reviews from your customers. The more reviews you have, the better you will be found on Google, for example. Reviews also create trust in your company.


Mateo's messaging tool is compatible with all German and European legally binding data protection requirements. If necessary, the software will be revised accordingly in the event of any changes to the law. For secure customer communication, all WhatsApp messages are encrypted end-to-end. All info on the GDPR when using WhatsApp can be read in this article.

Scalability for all company sizes

The scalability of the messaging tool has been confirmed by the large number of companies already using Mateo with a high level of satisfaction. Whether customers have just a few employees or many hundreds, the software facilitates customer communication and, depending on the package, can be used with an unlimited number of end devices, users and phone numbers. The fact that Mateo can significantly reduce the workload in the customer service area opens up new growth opportunities for many companies.

Low cost provider for WhatsApp Business API

With an entry-level price of just 79 euros per month, Mateo is a cost-effective provider for WhatsApp Business API solutions on the German market. Combined with the integration of additional communication channels and various helpful tools, Mateo offers excellent value for money. Mateo's personal customer support assists companies with every step of the integration, ensuring very low barriers to entry.

Henri Hoepfner
Messenger expert at Mateo

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Christian Strauch
Managing Director & Co-Founder

With Mateo, you provide your customers with an outstanding customer experience and gain loyal fans.

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