Since the financial crisis, attention has focused on central counterparties (CCPs) as a solution to systemic risk for a variety of financial markets, ranging from repurchase agreements and options to swaps. However, internationally accepted standards and the academic literature have left unanswered many practical questions related to the design of CCPs. The author analyzes the inherent trade‐offs and resulting international benchmarks for a certain set of issues. Four CCPs – FINet, CME Clearing, Eurex Clearing and LCH.Clearnet – are considered in terms of risk management, CCP links, governance and operational risk.