Crypto Community’s Latest Kryptonite: A Tungsten Cube

Antalya, Turkey - April 25,  2021: Close up shot of alt coins cryptocurrency over computer circuit.
ozgurdonmaz / Getty Images

The latest frenzy in the crypto world is not a meme stock, not a canine-related coin, not even rallying “to the moon” calls from various famous crypto enthusiasts.

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It’s a cube. Not any kind of cube, mind you, a tungsten cube. And while carrying a relatively expensive price tag, it’s cheaper than the lambos from the “crypto bros” days of yore. And now, the cube has attained so much fame that it’s getting its own NFT. And yes, you can go on a yearly pilgrimage to touch it.

One company — Willowbrook, Illinois-based Midwest Tungsten Service — is the lucky beneficiary of the recent tungsten demand from the crypto community, as it saw its demand surge in the past month.

Sean Murray, Director of Ecommerce at Midwest Tungsten Service, told GOBankingRates that the recent “off the charts” surge started on October 12, driven by people active on Twitter. Tungsten is known as one of the toughest things found in nature. It is super dense and almost impossible to melt, according to Live Science.

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“Nic Carter [partner at blockchain and cryptoasset venture firm Castle Island] has been a Tungsten enthusiast for a while now and he tweeted about it and then it spread wider with the Wall Street Journal article,” Murray says. “That bandwagonned into a half-joking, half-serious thing about the enthusiasm and propelled it forward.”

Carter, (nic cubeter on Twitter) who describes himself in his Twitter bio as the “dispenser of tungsten” told the WSJ that the physical heft of the cubes contrasts with the intangible nature of cryptomarkets.

“We’re just deprived of physical totems of our affection, and so tungsten fills that hole in our hearts,” he told the WSJ.

The cubes come in different sizes, but Murray says that the best-selling one is the 1.5 inch one, which retails for $190. The 4-inch cube costs $3000.

“I would say they’re dealing in digital virtual currencies and tokens and it feels (for them) a grounding in the physical world to have a tungsten cube and it’s the opposite in a way from other stuff,” Murray says when asked what he makes of the trend.

And if you want one, fear not. Despite the demand, there is no risk of shortage, Murray says.

“We’ve been fortunate and there’s no risk of supply chain shortage as it’s formed in machines for cube shapes, and we have a very good supply of inventory of all the shapes.”

The company also had to hire more workers to help with the packaging because of the surge.

And because things move fast in the crypto world, it was only a matter of days before the company was approached about creating an NFT.

“But that’s not something we’ve had experience with, so at first we rejected it,” Murray says, adding, “I barely knew what an NFT was.”

The company had to design a special room where the cube will be placed once the NFT is purchased, Murray says. The 14″ 1,784 lb Tungsten Cube NFT, which is described as “a real-world cube we store for you or you can burn to redeem,” will be placed in production when the NFT is purchased just as a typical custom part would be, Murray says.

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The auction for the cube is on NFT marketplace Opensea. The starting bid is at 47.74 ETH, which is approximately $205,700 as of today, and 10% of the proceeds above the auction starting price will go to a mutually agreed-upon charitable organization.

“This NFT represents a real-world physical cube that will be stored at Midwest Tungsten Service headquarters and owned by the NFT owner. One visit to see/photograph/touch the cube per calendar year will be allowed and scheduled with a Midwest Tungsten Service representative,” according to a description on OpenSea. “Unlockable content required for scheduling and proof of ownership required for entry. The cube will be stored in a room of its own that will be locked and only accessible by the NFT owner.”

Alex Salnikov, co-founder and head of product at one of the largest NFT marketplaces Rarible, tells GOBankingRates that  “the tungsten cube trend originated in the crypto community, so it was only a matter of time before NFTs would accelerate it further.”

“Owning a token that grants you exclusive access to a 14.545-inch, 2,000-pound metal cube stored at some warehouse might sound surreal now, but the metaverse will be full of NFT-powered experiences that blur the line between the digital and the physical,” he says.

The company also lists on Opensea the numerous rules around the  cube and the”cube visit.”

“Subsequent owners of the NFT cannot visit the cube in a year in which the cube has already been visited. The cube will not be available to view until 12 weeks after the first sale. Burning the NFT will result in shipment to the most recent owner via freight truck, owner will be responsible for alerting Midwest Tungsten Service of the intention to burn and transport after freight drop-off. During each annual visit or once annually while the cube is stored with Midwest Tungsten Service, options for replacing the cube with a larger size (if available, based on improved manufacturing capabilities) will be presented to the current NFT holder.”

See: 10 Cheap Cryptocurrencies To Buy
Find: The Hype Around NFTs: What Are They? And How Pricey Do They Get?

Alex DiNunzio, CEO and Co-Founder of Jambb, a digital-comedy-collectibles startup giving comedians the opportunity to create additional revenue streams from their content through NFTs, says that while this is certainly a bizarre story, crypto is changing the world in unexpected ways.

“In the future, we’ll see similar examples of NFTs blurring the lines of what people deem as artistic and valuable in a way that gives physical objects meaning in a digital space,” he says. “The rise of tungsten cube orders highlights the immense power of the crypto community — like so many of these trends, it all started with a funny meme and a few jokes, then the community magnified interest through a collective conversation in places like Twitter and Discord. Is there something comforting in an oft-tumultuous crypto environment in having something physical to hold in your hands? Sure. But the main takeaway here is just how powerful our community is.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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