/ Customer Service

WhatsApp for Business - API vs APP

Unless you've been under a rock, I'm sure you've heard about WhatsApp for Business - WhatsApp's initiative to transform how consumers communicate with Businesses on their platform. Well, there's two flavors to this story and in this post we'll demystify a few terms and hopefully steer you in the right path for your business. First, let's get some definitions out of the way.

WhatsApp for Business App (WhatsApp Business) is a free to download app available on Android and iPhone that helps small businesses easily interact with their customers.

WhatsApp for Business API is an official solution for Medium to Large businesses to use third party tools to engage their customers on WhatsApp.

Why should I care?

To begin with, your customers are most likely on WhatsApp. With 1.5 billion monthly active users, it's the world's largest messaging platform. On average, WhatsApp user's check their app for updates at least 23 times daily. It makes smart sense to be on this platform, regardless of your business size.

What do they have in common?

Ok, let's start of with the similarities. Regardless of which option you pick, your customers will be able to contact you on their WhatsApp application.

End-to-End Encryption

They are both end-to-end encrypted meaning, no third parties can see any messages being sent.

Business Profiles

They both allow you to seperate your personal communication from your business. They both allow you to have a business profile which allows you to personalize and add details such as your business address and website.


You can add details such as opening and closing times. All features that would be useful for your customers.

What's different?

Here's what set's the two platforms apart.

Profile Verification

This is the green tick besides a profile to denote that WhatsApp has verified the business' information. This is only available to select API clients.

Template Messages

Message Templates are message formats for common reusable messages a business may want to send. Businesses must pay to send these messages if they are initiating a message with a contact e.g. a notification

External tools access

Only API clients can use 3rd party tools such as Ongair to manage their communication. Users of the business app can only use the Android or iOS app as well as the WhatsApp for Web version. This effectively makes the App single user whereas Api clients can be used by multiple users.


The WhatsApp for Business App is totally free. The WhatsApp for Business API has associated costs, depending on the 3rd party provider used, and whether template messages are used.


The WhatsApp for Business App is currently available to all users. The WhatsApp for Business API is in a public BETA and is available only to select businesses and brands. A business has to go through a WhatsApp for Business partner to be able to get on the platform and this process takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Some businesses in industries such as Betting, Alcohol and Tobacco are also not eligible for API accounts.

Which is Right for my business?

The choice of which client to use ultimately depends on the size of your business and the reason you want to use WhatsApp to communicate with your customers.

If you are a small business definitely consider using the App for now. It's free and quick to get started.

For medium to large businesses, the WhatsApp for API is a better option. It'll allow you to do both customer support as well as send your customers valuable notifications. At Ongair, we can help you with the approval and activation process. Fill in this form and one of our customer success team will get in touch with you.