In 2018, WhatsApp introduced two business solutions for businesses wanting to use the messaging giant to communicate with their customers; the WhatsApp Business App for small to medium-sized businesses and the WhatsApp Business API for large, enterprise businesses.
While the WhatsApp Business App is free to download and use, the WhatsApp Business API requires businesses to apply for an early access program and work with an authorized Business Solution Provider like Hubtype.
Applicants are approved by WhatsApp on a case-by-case basis through their solution provider, with only businesses that comply with strict requirements being approved. To date, we have observed almost exclusively large enterprise businesses being approved to access the API.
This has led to an increase in some organisations abusing WhatsApp’s guidelines to create bulk messaging and automated behavior that spread problematic content.
Business Solution Providers for Accessing the WhatsApp API
WhatsApp has selected less than 50 companies and organisations worldwide, including Hubtype, to become WhatsApp Business Solution Providers. WhatsApp requires those interested in using the Business API to work with one of the Solution Providers it has collaborated with.
As a Solution Provider, Hubtype helps enterprise businesses to apply for WhatsApp’s early access program, as well as creating automation to help implement a scaleable plan for the new messaging channel.
What is unauthorized WhatsApp Business API access?
There are some third parties offering unauthorized services on the WhatsApp platform, such as automated or bulk messaging, which are in violation of WhatsApp’s Terms of Service. These unauthorized companies falsely claiming to provide WhatsApp Business Solutions are very common. Many companies are currently working with these rogue WhatsApp solution providers, including huge brands and enterprises, all over the world, and at great risk.
Any business that is not listed in Facebook’s official online directory of solution providers does not have authorization to provide WhatsApp Business Solutions.
One of WhatsApp’s priorities is to prevent and stop any violations or abuse of its service, which includes any activity carried out with an unauthorized solution provider and certainly any behavior that does not align with their approved use cases. For example, direct marketing or SPAM is not allowed on WhatsApp’s API.
With teams of engineers, data scientists, analysts and researchers, WhatsApp aims to deter and prevent abuse on their platform to ensure it continues being a trusted and loved platform across the world where people interact with friends and businesses alike.
Consequences of using a rogue provider
Working with a company that isn’t one of the Solution Providers listed in Facebook’s official online directory of Solution Providers can lead to your business account being banned.
Over 2 million unauthorized business accounts are banned by Facebook on a monthly basis, so it’s imperative that you work with a Solution Provider–like Hubtype–which appears in the official directory.
Using anything other than the official WhatsApp Business API or other official WhatsApp tools can lead to the limitation or removal of your access to WhatsApp. It can also result in your number being permanently banned from WhatsApp.
Actions WhatsApp may take:
- Temporary banning or removal of your number
- Permanent banning or removal of your number
- Banning of your brand or company
- Legal action
If you have worked with an unauthorized third party to send messages on WhatsApp, we recommend that you stop doing so immediately and contact an authorized Solution Provider like Hubtype; you can contact WhatsApp directly as well, however, they will connect you with a service provider to continue access.
WhatsApp is actively pursuing companies that claim they can send bulk messages on WhatsApp with legal action, demanding they cease operations. WhatsApp’s sophisticated machine learning systems detect abusive behaviour to ban accounts at registration, during messaging and in response to negative feedback.
How to identify an official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider
The most effective way to identify a WhatsApp Business Solution Providers is to consult Facebook’s official online directory of Solution Providers. Any company not listed in this directory is not a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider. We recommend that businesses exercise extreme caution working with any companies not listed here as you risk a variety of consequences outlined above.
How to report a rogue provider
To notify WhatsApp about unauthorized services that may be violating WhatsApp’s terms of service, you can do so at any time from within the WhatsApp Messenger application. Simply click on ‘More options’ from within the chat with the brand you wish to report and click on ‘Report or Block’.
WhatsApp is a powerful tool for large enterprise businesses, which enables meaningful conversations with customers. Used correctly, the benefits are unparalleled, including increased customer satisfaction, reduced costs, engaged customers and more sales, all while communicating with more than 1.5B people who use WhatsApp in the world.
Rolling out the platform incorrectly can annoy your customers and inadvertently create a negative experience. Instead, we recommend following the advice and guidance of an authorized provider. Working with an authorized provider will give you support to understand how to best use WhatsApp to improve your sales, support and other brand experiences.
If you’re an enterprise business, contact Hubtype now and see if you’re a fit for the WhatsApp Business API early access program. Are you currently using an unauthorized provider and want to make the switch to an authorized provider? Contact us, we can help.