Gecko Chat supports adding a WhatsApp channel to handle conversations with students within our platform alongside other messaging tools. WhatsApp are currently restricting the availability to their APIs but we can request access on the behalf of each individual customer to gain the ability to process messages on your behalf through our platform. Due to the restrictions from WhatsApp / Facebook , we are required to go through a manual process in order to set up a new WhatsApp channel. 

Here's how you get started: 

Step 1: Accept WhatsApp ToS via Twilio

Twilio is the messaging processor Gecko uses for all SMS and WhatsApp channels. WhatsApp requires all end users (i.e. in our case it's the university) to accept their Terms of Services. In order to do this in a way that Twilio has access to we will need to set up a trial account with Twilio. The account is free and will not be needed once you're done setting up the WhatsApp channel. Unfortunately , this convoluted process is the only way that allowed Twilio to make sure that the end users actually accepted the ToS from WhatsApp. Here are the steps you need to follow: 

  1. Create a trial Twilio account here
  2. Once you register for your free account with Twilio, verify your email and go through the set up process to access your account. You can use the "Skip to dashboard" to bypass the wizard when attempting to log in for the first time:

3. Click on the three dots on the top left to expand the menu, and find the option for "Programmable SMS":

4. Click on the "WhatsApp" option in the nav bar: 

5. A modal will pop up and you will be prompted to accept the WhatsApp terms of service. This is what we came here for. Tick the box and confirm:

6. Once you've confirmed the terms of services, click on the cog icon at the top right and navigate into your account settings (you might be prompted to re-enter your password when you try to access your account settings): 

7. Copy the the value in the SID field and paste it into a note. We will need this value later on in the process:

Step 2: Facebook Business Manager

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, as such they require all business WhatsApp channels to be linked to Facebook Business Manager.  This is a service that allows businesses to manage their facebook groups or pages, instagram accounts and WhatsApp channels in a single place. As part of their setup requirements, Facebook ask all business WhatsApp channels to be linked to a Facebook Business Manager account. The Business Manager account is used by WhatsApp to associate your phone numbers with your business and to identify your business.  To be able to set things up for you, we will need your facebook business manager ID. Your Business Manager ID can be found in the "Business Info" section under Business Settings. Make a note of it.

If your institution doesn't already have a Facebook Business Manager account, you will have to set one up by following the steps outlined here

Step 3: Set up an SMS channel in chat

Log into your Gecko Chat account and navigate to Settings > Channels. Create a new channel of type SMS and choose a number that you want to be ported across to WhatsApp. Make a note of the number you've acquired. Please note that you can also use an existing SMS channel if you already have one set up.

Step 4: Submit a WhatsApp channel request form

Lastly, please submit this form and enter the number of the SMS channel , the Twilio account SID and the Facebook Business Manager ID into the appropriate fields. You will also be asked to provide some information about your intended usecase , which will be used during the approval process with WhatsApp.

Done 🎉

Once you complete the form, our support team will receive an alert and will go on to place a request to verify your SMS number with WhatsApp.

At the moment of writing , it takes WhatsApp anything from a few days to a full month to verify a number. This is outside of our control and we are grateful for your patience through this process.  

Once WhatsApp are done verifying your account, the success team will inform you of the new channel and we recommend giving it a quick test to make sure it's working. Simply open the WhatsApp app on your phone, add a new contact with the WhatsApp number that you acquired earlier and then start a new conversation to see it appear in Gecko Chat. If everything works, make sure you celebrate 🎉!

Please share your feedback on this update by contacting us through the live chat, logging a feature request through the 'Suggest a Feature' option in Gecko, or by emailing us on adrian@geckoengage.com 

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