WhatsApp Conversation Based Pricing Model Explained (2022)

updated on 18 May 2022

Since 1st February 2022, WhatsApp Conversation based pricing has taken over from the template-based pricing. After testing the pricing in Mexico for over a year, WhatsApp has implemented Conversation based pricing across the globe.

In short, this means that WhatsApp now charges for conversations, rather than charging for each message sent/ received.

But, what exactly is a conversation? How does it affect the way you pay to WhatsApp & your WhatsApp partner? Is it any good?

This blog answers all possible questions you have & more about the WhatsApp Conversation based pricing

How did WhatsApp charge earlier from Businesses using WhatsApp Business API?

Earlier, WhatsApp used to charge a certain fee for each template message depending on the country code of the user.


WhatsApp divides its messages into two categories:
1. Template Messages
2. Session Messages


Template messages are messages sent by businesses (out of the 24-hour session window or as the first message). If the user responds, it opens a session window that lasts for 24 hours from the user's latest message. Click here to know more about the WhatsApp Template & Session messages.

The main revenue stream for WhatsApp in the template message-based pricing model was WhatsApp Template messages. For each message sent by a business, WhatsApp charged a certain fee depending on the user's country code. Check out the country-wise Conversation pricing sheet

So, what is WhatsApp Conversation based Pricing?

In the Conversation-based pricing, WhatsApp charges for each conversation: Business Initiated Conversation & User-Initiated Conversation.

WhatsApp Conversation is a 24-hour messaging window initiated only when a business messages a user. A Conversation here starts when a business messages the user (thus initiates the Conversation) or replies to a user's message. All incoming messages from users are FREE and only chargeable if the business responds to the user's message.

For a message to become a conversation, here's what needs to happen:

  • Business responding to a user message. This will start a User-initiated Conversation (explained in the below section).

  • Business starts the conversation by sending a pre-approved template message. This will start a Business-initiated Conversation.

Businesses and users can exchange any number of messages, including template messages, within a 24-hour conversation session without incurring additional charges. 

WhatsApp charges a certain fee for each Business-initiated Conversation (BIC) and User-initiated Conversation (UIC) depending on the country code of the users.  

In the Conversation-based pricing, WhatsApp charges for each conversation in a 24-hour window.

In the Conversation based pricing, there are no per-message charges. Businesses can exchange any number of messages with the user during a 24-hour conversation window.


But what are Business & User-initiated conversations?

(1) User-initiated Conversation

POV- User's Screen
POV- User's Screen

Whenever a business replies to a user within the 24-hour session window, that message initiates a user-initiated conversation (UIC)

The 24-hour session window starts when a user messages the business & is valid till 24 hours from the latest/last message of the user. The business can respond in this 24 hours session window with any message (without any approval required).

If the business fails to respond within this 24-hour session window, the business will have to start the conversation with a pre-approved template message.

In the above example, the 24 hours session window starts at 1: 09 PM. The User-initiated conversation starts only when the business responds to the user's message i.e. at 3:30 P.M and is charged as per the UIC pricing.

The UIC, in this case, will be valid till 3:30 PM the next day. After 3:30 PM, if the conversation continues, the business would have to pay for another conversation.

The pricing of UIC, as charged by WhatsApp is ₹0.35 for Indian recipients.

(2) Business Initiated Conversation

POV- User's Screen
POV- User's Screen

When a business initiates the conversation (after the 24-hour session window or as the first message) with a Template message, it's considered a business-initiated conversation.

But, to start this kind of conversation, businesses need to get template messages approved beforehand which usually take 15 minutes to 3 hours to get approved.

Check out this WhatsApp Template Message guide to know how to create template messages with 90% approval chances.

The benefit here is that once a business initiates a BIC & pays for one conversation, it can exchange unlimited messages with the user for the next 24-hours.

Business initiated conversations cost ₹0.55/conversation

6 Key Pointers about WhatsApp Conversation based Pricing

  • User-initiated Conversations are priced less than Business initiated conversations: UIC at ₹0.35/ conversation & BIC at ₹0.55/ conversation.
  • User-initiated conversations (UICs) are chargeable only when a Business responds to a user message. Which in this case must be within 24 hours for the conversation to be a UIC. 
  • Business initiated conversations (BICs) are chargeable right from the moment the business sends a pre-approved template message to users outside the 24-hour session window or initiates messaging with the user. 
  • With the new Conversation based pricing, WhatsApp has eliminated per-message charges for Template Messages. Businesses can send any number of messages to users within a 24-hour conversation without incurring extra charges.
  • Each 24-hour conversation results in a single charge. Conversations after the 24-hour duration will be charged again according to the type of conversation they lie under (UIC or BIC).
  • The basis of the pricing depends on the user's country code. Conversation charges vary based on the user's region.

3 Real-world Examples of User-initiated & Business Initiated Conversations

We understand that WhatsApp Conversation-based pricing can be hard to grasp at first. However, once you get the zist of it, you'll understand how the new conversation based pricing is way better than paying for each template message!

Example 1: When a User initiates the Conversation

User-Initiated Conversation ExamplePOV- User's Screen
User-Initiated Conversation Example
POV- User's Screen

A user initiates a conversation at 10 AM, Monday, thereby opening a 24-hour session window.

The business texts back at 5 AM, Tuesday. Since the business replies within the 24-hour session window, they will pay only for one User-initiated conversation beginning at 5 AM, Tuesday. 

Now, let's suppose the business once again messages the user at 4 PM, Tuesday. Notice that the business texts within 24-hours of the UIC that started at 5 AM Tuesday. So, the business won't be paying anything for this message.

Now, the user responds at 3 PM, Wednesday. This time notice that the user replies to the message after the 24-hour conversation period ends.

If the business wants to continue the conversation, they'll have to pay for....if you guessed UIC, you're right. Notice here that the session window stays open 24 hours from the user's last message. That's why it will be UIC.

Example 2. When Business initiates the conversation

Business Initiated Conversation examplePOV- User's Screen
Business Initiated Conversation example
POV- User's Screen

Let's consider that a business initiates the conversation at 10 A.M. Monday with a pre-approved template message. Here, the conversation begins as soon as the business sends the message to the user and the business will pay for one BIC.

Now, the user responds at 11 A.M, on the same day. Will the business pay for another conversation?

No!

Since the user responded within 24-hours of the beginning of the conversation, there will be no extra charges.

The business now responds at 10:30 A.M. Tuesday.

Now, it’s been 24-hours since the business initiated the conversation. So, for which conversation do you think the business would pay for now? The business would now pay for a user-initiated conversation.

Why didn’t the business pay for business-initiated conversation? This is because the session window which started at 11 AM, the previous day was still active.

Thus, the business paid for another conversation, but this time, user-initiated conversation.

Example 3- Example including Two User-initiated Conversations

User-initiated Conversation examplePOV- User's screen
User-initiated Conversation example
POV- User's screen

A user initiates a conversation at 10 AM, Monday, thereby opening a 24-hour session window.

The business texts back at 5 AM, Tuesday. Since the business replies to the user's message within the 24-hour session window, the business will pay for one User-initiated conversation beginning at 5 AM, Tuesday. 

Now, let's suppose the business once again messages the user at 4 PM, Tuesday. Notice that the business texts within 24-hours of the UIC that started at 5 AM Tuesday. So, the business won't be paying anything for this message.

Now, the user responds at 3 PM, Wednesday. This time notice that the user replies to the message after the 24-hour conversation period ends.

If the business wants to continue the conversation, they'll have to pay for...?

If you guessed UIC, you're right. Notice here that the session window stays open 24 hours from the user's last message. That's why it will be UIC.

The business texts back at 6 PM, thus beginning another User-initiated Conversation, charged separately.

Rate Cards for the WhatsApp Conversational Based Pricing

The Conversation based pricing has simplified the WhatsApp API Pricing. Below are the charges for each conversation based on the type of Conversation:

(1) User-Initiated Conversation- ₹0.35/ Conversation

(2) Business Initiated Conversation- ₹0.55/ Conversation

There are no per-message charges in Conversation based pricing. Each conversation in a 24-hour duration will only be charged once! Businesses & users can exchange unlimited messages within the 24-hour duration.

Things that stay the same in the Conversation based pricing model


1. 24-Hour Session Window- The 24-hour session window starts from the latest messages of the user. After this window gets over, businesses can only send template messages to the users, thus initiating a Business initiated conversation (BIC).


2. Template Messages- While businesses don't need to pay for template messages anymore, they still need to approve all template messages before broadcasting to users.

What does WhatsApp Conversation based pricing mean for AiSensy Clients?

For AiSensy clients, there's not much that changes except for the WhatsApp Conversation Credits panel that you need to recharge to communicate with your users.

image-jc83r

We haven't added any extra commission or surcharges over WhatsApp actuals! You'll be paying the same conversation amount charged by WhatsApp based on your user's country code & whether the conversation is user-initiated, or Business initiated.


The monthly active user pricing remains the same. Check it out here.

FAQs for WhatsApp Conversation Based Pricing

Q Why is there a shift to Conversation based pricing from notification-based pricing?


WhatsApp changed the pricing from per message to per conversation due to this reason:
"Relationships are about more than a single message. That's why our rates are per 24-hour conversation session to enable businesses to provide the fast & conversational experiences that customers want."


Thus, the shift from per-message charges to per-conversation charges.



Q What is considered a conversation on WhatsApp as per conversational based pricing?

WhatsApp Conversation is a 24-hour messaging window initiated only when a business messages a user.

A Conversation here starts when a business messages the user (thus initiates the Conversation) or replies to a user's message. All incoming messages from users are FREE and only chargeable if the business responds to the user's message.



Q How are these conversations charged?

Conversations are charged based on the type of conversation & the user's country code. The pricing of User-initiated & Business initiated conversations vary depending on the region & the country code the user belongs to!


Q Will the pricing differentiate based on the volume of messages sent?

No!

The prices of both user-initiated & business-initiated conversations are fixed & unaffected by the volumes of messages exchanged between businesses & users.

Regardless of your message volumes, you'll need to pay a fixed amount for each conversation depending on:

1. The user's country code and,

2. Whether the conversation is User-initiated or Business initiated.



Q Does Conversational based pricing removes the restriction of approving WhatsApp Template Messages?

No! Businesses would still need to approve all their WhatsApp Template messages from WhatsApp. However, the process of template message approval has become faster, especially if you're an AiSensy user. Your template message now gets approved quickly between 15 minutes- and 3 hours.



Q If I send 2 Template messages within the 24-hour window, do I need to pay twice?

No! You'll only be charged once for Business-initiated conversation till the next 24 hours. During this period, you can send any number of texts, images, audio & files to the user. The conversation window renews to a fresh chargeable conversation only if the conversation continues after the 24-hour session cycle ends.


Q Will I be charged for User-initiated conversation if I receive a message from the user but don't respond?

User-initiated conversations are chargeable only when a business responds to user queries, or when the business is the initiator of the conversation. If the business doesn't respond to the query, you won't be charged a single dime.   

Final Words


Well, that's a wrap!


WhatsApp has put a step forward into motivating more businesses to adopt WhatsApp Business API with the conversation-based pricing model. The day isn't far when businesses would be pitching ads, motivating customers to click-through & instead of directing to their website, they'd direct them to WhatsApp!
What do you think about WhatsApp Conversation based pricing? Let us know in the comments.





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