The XRP (XRP -0.78%) cryptocurrency, often referred to as Ripple, has experienced some wild swings over the last five years. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against the Ripple Labs organization in December 2020, throwing a spanner in its growth plans.

Soon, all the U.S. crypto exchanges had frozen their clients' Ripple balances and halted trading of the token. Since then, Ripple's price chart has soared and crashed repeatedly in response to developments in the SEC lawsuit.

If you bought $1,000 of Ripple tokens five years ago, you may have lost some sleep over that investment. At one point, your account would have been worth less than $470. About a year after that, it soared briefly all the way to $6,200.

But the bumps have evened out over time. If you had held on to that $1,000 XRP purchase until the end of April 2024, your returns would have been quite close to the price appreciation of the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.77%) index over that period.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts.

This span covers an entire cycle of Bitcoin's (BTC -0.80%) rewards halving, which tends to set the general tone for the crypto market. But the SEC's legal action anchored XRP's value, so the token hasn't followed along as Bitcoin and other cryptos soared in recent months. A $1,000 Bitcoin investment made in April 2019 would be worth more than $12,000 by now.

What's next for XRP investors?

It's hard to say whether XRP's gains will catch up to those of other digital assets, but the results of the SEC's challenge will soon be finalized. Court rulings have been favorable to Ripple Labs over the last year, and a full jury trial started last week. That process should play out over the summer, and the outcome will help lawmakers and regulators finalize the legal framework for buying, owning, and using cryptocurrencies.

Meanwhile, the RippleNet international payments network keeps growing, and there's even an XRP-based stablecoin in play. Ripple may win big or lose hard, but you'll never be bored watching its evolution.