WhatsApp has recently announced that on the 1st of February 2021 it will test a new pricing system for the Mexican market. The test will only affect messages sent to WhatsApp users with a Mexico phone number, regardless of the company’s location. At the moment, it is impossible to know if the results of this test will lead WhatsApp to permanently change its policy, but it is still worth taking the time to analyze the impact that it will have on chatbots and businesses that use them.
What will change in Mexico
At the moment WhatsApp allows businesses to respond to incoming messages for free and only charges for the template messages that are used to start conversations. This means that, as long as the customer writes first or keeps replying to messages, the company can use WhatsApp’s Business API’s for free.
During this test, WhatsApp will do away with its old pricing strategy and charge its business API users by “24-hour conversation sessions”. According to the official documentation, a session will start when:
- A business-initiated message is delivered to a user, outside of a 24-hour window
- A business reply to a user message is delivered within the 24-hour window
During this test, businesses will also have an allowance of 1500 free sessions per month.
How it affects Mexican businesses
From a business perspective, the most important change is that responding to a customer’s messages will no longer be free. At least not once the 1500 session allowance is used up.
As a consequence, chatbots that were previously used only to respond to incoming messages and operated at near-zero cost will now become more expensive to operate. The change is unlikely to be dramatic since the sessions only cost 0.0140 USD and are only charged after the allowance is used up.
Small businesses are unlikely to notice the effects of this short-term test. For larger businesses things may be different, especially if they receive large numbers of incoming messages and, if the changes become permanent, may require some adjustments in their strategy.
Using different channels
If the changes do become permanent and are extended to other markets, one way to get around the problem is by using a wider range of communication channels. Chatbots are highly adaptable and most of their programming is independent of the platform they use for communication.
As a result, it will be easy for companies to extend their chatbot’s domain beyond WhatsApp and into platforms like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or WeChat. If WhatsApp costs become a problem, chatbots could start any WhatsApp conversation by asking what is the user’s preferred messaging app and use the question to move some conversations to other channels.
For the moment the impact is unlikely to be significant but if you’d like to expand your chatbot into new platforms or create new ones, our team of experts will be more than happy to help you. You can reach out to them using the link below: