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Meta* continues to develop its most popular messenger, and it has announced WhatsApp Business API (WABA) updated categorized billing system. Here we will take a close look at the changes and how they can affect you.


  1. Main billing changes
  2. New session types and template categories
  3. Category management and selection
  4. Can sessions be free?
  5. Conclusions


Main billing changes

Let us give you a short sketch of the upcoming changes:

  • On April 1, 2023, company-initiated sessions were divided into three categories – utility, authentication, and marketing.
  • Meta* will automatically change the categories of current HSM templates to the new ones. If you do not agree with the category assigned, you will be able to appeal.
  • Starting from June 1, 2023, sessions will be billed according to their category – marketing sessions will be the most expensive, while authentication sessions will be the cheapest. The price of utility sessions will not change.
  • 1,000 free chats will only be available in utility sessions.
  • The duration of sessions initiated via free entry points has been extended to 72 hours.

Starting from February 1, 2022, all chats have been divided into two categories: 

  • company-initiated sessions; 
  • user-initiated sessions.

The new chat categories will take full effect on June 1, 2023. In order to register an HSM template, you will now have to select one of the three categories: 

  • Utility
  • Authentication;
  • Marketing.

They will replace the current company-initiated sessions. User-initiated sessions will be transferred to a fourth category – support (service conversations).

These changes should better match the pricing model with the various stages of the Customer Journey Map (CJM), the customer journey from the first touch to sale and further support. 67% of WABA user companies note that WhatsApp has increased their conversions greater than other communication channels.

New session types and template categories

Let’s try to figure out what each category means and what they are for.

1. Utility conversations are company-initiated sessions approved by customers to simplify the processing of their requests or transactions. Such sessions can provide the customer with prompt information on transactions of interest – purchase notifications, receipts, and bills.
For example, 

  • Confirming or suspending a transaction: “You have canceled the order. We will refund you within 7–10 days.” 
  • Changing or updating a transaction: “Reminder: The meeting is on Tuesday at 1 p.m.”
  • Invoices and payment notifications: “Payment processing failed. Click here to retry.”

2. Authentication are company-initiated sessions for user authentication with one-time codes. These can be used for multi-step logins, account verification, or account recovery.

For example, “Your confirmation code is {{1}}. For security reasons, keep this code private.”

3. Marketing conversations are company-initiated sessions approved by customers to receive information on promotions, goods availability notifications, and more. These can also be calls to action. Any session that cannot be defined as Utility or Authentication will be categorized as a marketing one.

For example, 

  • Promotions and offers: “Thank you for your order! Use promo code DSCNT20 to receive a 20% discount on your next order.” 
  • Hello or goodbye messages: “Horns&Hoofs is now on WhatsApp!
  • Updates, invitations, newsletters, and recommendations: “We have a new range of burgers. Try it, you'll like it!” 
  • Queries and calls to action: “The items in the basket are already missing you. Click on the link and place your order.

4. Support (service conversations) is any session initiated by the user to, for example, resolve an issue.

The cost of these sessions will change too on June 1, 2023. 

  • Company-initiated Utility sessions will be cheaper than the current rates. 
  • Sessions in the Marketing category will rise in price. 
  • Prices for sessions in the Support category will not change. 
  • Sessions in the Authentication category will be the cheapest. 

You can find the current prices here.

Category management and selection

The new template categories have been used for template registration already since April 1, 2023. Meta* will automatically change the categories for all existing HSM templates, so no additional actions will be necessary. If you do not agree with the category assigned by Meta*, you will be able to do the following: 

1. Edit the template using WhatsApp Manager and specify a category that corresponds to the template content.

2. Edit or create a new template without any mixed content.

For example, your template contains both a delivery message (Utility) and a discount code (Marketing). In this case, you can, for instance, delete the code and categorize the template as Utility.

3. File an appeal and explain your decision to assign this category.

Can sessions be free?

Yes, but there is a nuance.

A WABA account used to receive up to 1,000 free chats per month, that could be spent on both company- and user-initiated sessions. Starting from June 1, 2023, these 1,000 free chats will only apply to any type of incoming sessions. 

But there is good news – Starting from March 1, sessions initiated via free entry points will be free for three days (i.e., they will include three sessions) instead of first 24 hours only.

Free entry points include:

  • Ads that click to WhatsApp;
  • Facebook Page CTA.


We recommend you to check whether the template categories in the provider’s profile are compliant, audit the usage, WhatsApp Business API and make sure that you don’t run out of deposit at the most inopportune moment.

Not sure where to start? Text us.

Open the Chat2Desk widget in the right corner and ask a question in any convenient messenger.

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