WhatsApp Cloud API: What it is, how it compares, and how to get started

WhatsApp Cloud API: What it is, how it compares, and how to get started

In May 2022, Meta unveiled the WhatsApp Cloud API, a cloud-hosted version of the WhatsApp Business API, offering businesses a cost-effective, scalable solution for integrating WhatsApp messaging into their operations. Unlike the on-premises WhatsApp Business API that requires third-party hosting, the Cloud API is directly managed by Meta, allowing for easier setup and access at no initial cost.

What is WhatsApp Cloud API?

In May 2022, Meta announced the release of WhatsApp Cloud API, which is similar to WhatsApp Business API with one major difference; Meta hosts WhatsApp Cloud API itself and businesses can access it for free, directly from Meta.

Just like WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Cloud API allows businesses to connect their WhatsApp Business account to their other tools and workflows. It supports the same message types as WhatsApp Business API.

WhatsApp Business Cloud API Features

The WhatsApp Cloud API offers a suite of features designed to enable seamless integration between WhatsApp and a business’s operational tools. Here are the key features:

Direct Integration with Meta

Businesses can integrate their systems with WhatsApp directly through Meta’s cloud, ensuring efficient and reliable communication.

Comprehensive Messaging Capabilities

Supports a wide range of message types including text, media (images, videos, audio, GIFs, files), contact cards, location, interactive messages (list messages, reply buttons, single and multi-product messages), and message templates for both text and media, along with interactive options.

Global Reach and Free Access and Usage

While hosted in North America, the Cloud API allows businesses worldwide to connect with their customers globally, leveraging WhatsApp’s vast user base. Additionally, Meta provides free access to the WhatsApp Cloud API, eliminating the setup and access costs associated with the WhatsApp Business API hosted by third-party BSPs. Charges per messaging still apply.

Developer-friendly API Documentation

Businesses can quickly set up their WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) and connect a phone number through a streamlined process facilitated by Meta’s platform, without the need for third-party coordination. Meta provides detailed and clear API documentation to help developers integrate their systems with WhatsApp easily, supporting innovation and custom solutions.

Scalable and Secure

WhatsApp Cloud API offers the flexibility to scale communications as the business grows. It adheres to Meta’s high standards for data security and privacy, ensuring that business and customer communications are protected.

How to Get Started with WhatsApp Cloud API?

There are primarily 2 ways to access WhatsApp Cloud API: directly through WhatsApp or by partnering with a Meta partner like Rasayel. Opting for a Meta partner not only simplifies the setup process but also enables streamlined access, enhanced support, and additional features tailored to your business needs.

1. Using an Embedded Signup

Getting access to the WhatsApp Cloud API through a Meta partner like Rasayel is all about simplicity and getting you up and running fast. You can launch your Business on WhatsApp Cloud API in just a few clicks. This integration process is designed to be user-friendly, ensuring that you can quickly Connect WhatsApp Cloud API to Rasayel and start sending WhatsApp messages to your customers.

Book a call with us and we’ll get you started in just 3 minutes!

2. Through Meta Directly

Connecting the WhatsApp Cloud API directly through Meta offers benefits like direct access to new features and no intermediate costs. However, since the API doesn’t come with an interface, this direct connection to WhatsApp Cloud API through Meta means you need to code it yourself or connect it to a WhatsApp team inbox like Rasayel. Additionally, the signup process is burdened with more complexity and the average user might find it difficult to

WhatsApp Cloud API Pricing

Creating a WhatsApp Cloud API account is free. Businesses only pay for:

The cost of WhatsApp conversations

WhatsApp uses a conversation-based pricing model where a “conversation” includes all messages exchanged in 24 hours starting from the first message sent by a business. There are two types of conversations:

  • User-Initiated
  • Business-Initiated

User-initiated conversations are slightly cheaper than business-initiated ones. For detailed pricing by region, refer to Meta’s Pricing page.

If you want to increase your messaging limits, you’d need to improve your Quality Rating.

The cost of a team inbox or CRM

Like WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp Cloud API doesn’t have an interface for sending and receiving messages. You need a shared team inbox to connect with the API to be able to use WhatsApp for teams. We offer simple pricing for any team and a 7-day free trial for all plans.

Pros & Cons of Using WhatsApp Cloud API

Comparing the WhatsApp Cloud API to the traditional on-premises WhatsApp Business API reveals distinct advantages and disadvantages, primarily influenced by their hosting models, cost structure, support, and scalability.

Here’s a detailed comparison:

Pros of Using WhatsApp Cloud API

Cost EfficiencyCloud API is free to access & use compared to on-premise API, which involves additional costs for hosting & infrastructure management.
Ease of Setup and MaintenanceThe WhatsApp Cloud API is hosted directly by Meta, simplifying the setup and maintenance process.
ScalabilityEasily scale business growth by eliminating the need for server management or upgrades that the on-premises version requires.
SupportWhatsApp Cloud API users benefit from direct Meta support.

Cons of Using WhatsApp Cloud API

Data Hosting ConcernsMeta hosts data in North America, which may not align with the strict data laws of some regions, leading some businesses to prefer local hosting options of the on-premises API.
Customization and ControlThe WhatsApp Business API (on-premises) allows for more customization and control.
Support and SLAsDirect support from Meta is beneficial, but the on-premises API may offer more personalized support, SLAs, and disaster recovery through BSPs.
Feature Parity and UpdatesThe on-premises API might provide advanced features and more control over updates not available with the Cloud API.
Latency and PerformanceCentralized hosting in North America could cause latency for international users, a non-issue with the locally hosted on-premises API.
Dependency on MetaBusinesses rely on Meta’s infrastructure and policies, posing risks of service changes or disruptions, unlike the on-premises API which offers more independence.


The WhatsApp Cloud API represents a significant step forward for businesses looking to leverage the world’s most popular messaging app for customer engagement and communication. By offering a cost-efficient, scalable, and easy-to-integrate solution, Meta has made it more accessible for businesses of all sizes to connect with their global customer base directly and effectively. The Cloud API’s direct integration with Meta’s infrastructure, combined with a wide array of messaging capabilities and comprehensive developer support, presents a compelling proposition for businesses aiming to enhance their customer service and engagement strategies.

However, businesses must carefully consider the trade-offs, particularly regarding data hosting concerns, customization, and control compared to the on-premises WhatsApp Business API. While the Cloud API offers unparalleled ease of access and cost savings, the on-premises solution may still appeal to businesses with specific regulatory, customization, or performance requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the WhatsApp Cloud API is free to access and set up. Businesses only pay for the messages they send according to WhatsApp’s conversation-based pricing model. The first 1,000 conversations each month are free.

The WhatsApp Cloud API is similar to the on-premises WhatsApp Business API but with key differences: it is hosted by Meta, making it more accessible and cost-effective since there are no fees for access or setup. The Cloud API offers direct integration, scalability, and is easier to set up compared to the WhatsApp Business API, which may require coordination with third-party Business Solution Providers (BSPs) and could involve additional costs.

To use the WhatsApp Cloud API, businesses need to create a WhatsApp Business Account (WABA) and connect a phone number to it via Meta’s platform. This involves signing up for a Facebook Developer Account, setting up an app, and following the provided steps to connect and verify a phone number. Once set up, businesses can integrate the API with their systems for messaging.

Yes, businesses can migrate from the WhatsApp Business App to the WhatsApp Cloud API by creating a Cloud API account and deleting their account from the WhatsApp Business App. The phone number can then be connected to the Cloud API account, but note that previous messaging history will not be transferred.

WhatsApp Cloud API offers standard support provided by Meta, which may not include personalized support or specific Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that could be available through third-party BSPs with the WhatsApp Business API. Direct support from Meta ensures a reliable point of contact for assistance with the API.

Learn more

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About the author
Niloofar Kavousi

Niloofar focuses on marketing and partnerships at Rasayel. She has worked in startups and large enterprises and lived in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. When she’s not working, she enjoys socializing, doing reformer and getting lost in nature.

@Niloofar K on LinkedIn