Brad Garlinghouse, the chief executive of Ripple, was last year publicly contemplating at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an initial public offering for the San Francisco startup.

The company had just increased roughly $200 million in a round of progress funding led by Tetragon Financial Group, with a $10 billion valuation. The value of its signature product, a cryptocurrency named XRP, had dropped over the previous year. But Ripple was assured to rebuild the infrastructure for cross-border trades.

A year later, an IPO is off the table. Instead, Ripple’s future hinges on a judge’s ruling in a civil lawsuit filed in December by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Regardless of the aftermath, the case is estimated to end up a key precedent for how US regulators craft rules and laws covering cryptocurrencies. It also highlights a wider truth regarding most digital currencies: Beyond the two biggest, bitcoin and ether, most of the hundreds of others have struggled to seek a functional value beyond speculation.